The Hindu experience: From our archive

In this article that was published in a special supplement on September 13, 2003 on the occasion of the 125 years of The Hindu, S. MUTHIAH, historian of Madras and author of several books, tells The Hindu story till then

September 20, 2023 06:30 pm | Updated 06:44 pm IST

A scene outside The Hindu office in 1964 of people following a cricket match score board.

A scene outside The Hindu office in 1964 of people following a cricket match score board.

(This is an article from our archive that was first published on September 13, 2003. It is being republished online on the occasion of The Hindu celebrating 145 years. The author of this article, the renowned historian S. Muthiah, passed away in 2019.)

The Subramania Aiyer era: Willing to strike and not reluctant to wound

Believe it or not, The Hindu was born in ire. Six angry young men, all barely out of their teens, felt the campaign waged by the Anglo-Indian Press — newspapers owned and edited by the British — against the appointment of the first Indian, T. Muthuswami Aiyer, to the Bench of the Madras High Court was blatantly unfair and should be forcefully rebutted. So they borrowed a rupee and twelve annas and founded The Hindu, printing 80 copies at the Srinidhi Press in Mint Street, Black Town, and promising every Wednesday evening an eight-page paper, each a quarter of today’s page size, for four annas.

In that first issue of September 20, 1878, ‘The Triplicane Six’ justified their venture thus: “The Press does not only give expression to public opinion, but also modifies and moulds it according to circumstances. It is this want that we have made bold to attempt to supply… The principles that we propose to be guided by are simply those of fairness and justice. It will always be our aim to promote harmony and union among our fellow countrymen and to interpret correctly the feelings of the natives and to create mutual confidence between the governed and the governors…” These would-be moulders of public opinion were two schoolmasters, the 23-year-old G. Subramania Aiyer of Tiruvaiyyar and his 21-year-old fellow-tutor and friend at Pachaiyappa’s College, M. Veeraraghavachariar of Chingleput; and four law students, T.T. Rangachariar, P.V. Rangachariar, D. Kesava Rao Pant and N. Subba Rao Pantulu. All were members of the Triplicane Literary Society, which like similar clubs and societies, had been formed to educate and enlighten the masses and mould public opinion against the draconian measures of the time. ‘The Triplicane Six’ started their careers in journalism and education by bringing out a cyclostyled ‘newspaper’ fortnightly. Its enthusiastic reception in Madras encouraged the six to start their weekly newspaper.

It did not take long for the students, who became lawyers, to prudently part company with their fiery editor, Subramania Aiyer, and his strongest supporter, Managing Director Veeraraghavachariar. Only Pantulu continued to write for the paper for many years, in fact until its Diamond Jubilee. After a month with the Srinidhi Press, the newspaper had its printing shifted to the Scottish Press, also in ‘Black Town’. There it welcomed the new Viceroy, the Marquis of Ripon, who, from his belief that “righteousness exalteth a nation,” began a series of reforms that The Hindu’s owners were convinced would win for him “the affection and gratitude of the people.” The paper felt he had recognised that “even the most paternal despotism had never been and could never be a lasting foundation for foreign rule” in a country like India with an ancient civilisation. Ripon restored the liberty of the ‘Native Press’, vigorously promoted the principles of local self-government through local and municipal administration, encouraged education, and invited Indians to work hand in hand with the Government. Subramania Aiyer and Veeraraghavachariar felt this Viceroy had successfully sown the seeds for the political education of the people. The founding fathers of The Hindu were Anglophiles to a great extent. “How enormously the Indian people are indebted to British rule for everything that makes human life worth living, that imparts to it happiness, dignity and the quality of progress,” The Hindu wrote in 1894.

However, it was equally convinced that the Anglo- Indian Press should be challenged, despotic bureaucrats condemned, and the abuse of power exposed. And so almost from birth, The Hindu collided head-on with the administration. “No harsher words,” it has been remarked, were ever used in The Hindu than when it took on Governor Mountstuart Grant-Duff. In 1881, the paper, commenting on the Chingleput Ryots’ case, charged Grant-Duff with allowing the affair “to cast dirt on the fair face of British Justice.” Three years later, lashing out at the Governor and the Judiciary, following the Salem Riots of 1884, The Hindu thundered: “…The prosecution of the so-called Salem Rioters and their convictions were the result of a premeditated design, hastily formed and executed in a vindictive spirit, not very honourable and utterly unworthy of a civilised Government…” The paper said about its béte noire on another occasion: “Oh! Lucifer! How art thou fallen? Oh! Mr Grant-Duff, how you stand like an extinct volcano in the midst of the ruins of your abortive reputation as an administrator! Erudite you may be, but a statesman you are not.”

It was during this explosive period that The Hindu moved to Mylapore and ‘The Hindu Press’, established by the paper’s friend Ragoonada Row, where it expected greater priority in production. However, within a month it found that what its proprietors were planning — a tri-weekly paper to keep on top of the news and provide “a timely discussion of topics of current interest” — would be impossible to produce here. It now moved to the Empress of India Press, where, from October 1, 1883, it became a tri-weekly, but maintaining the same size. The Hindu idolised ‘Father’ Ripon, who had succeeded Lytton, the Viceroy “the people of India can never think of without a curse… [who] left the country without a single soul being sorry for it.” The newspaper affirmed its belief in the bonds with Britain but “conceived a just aversion” to the bureaucracy, which was “the object of our hatred and contempt.” It felt that Britain would produce better results in India with greater “sympathy for the indigenous institutions of the conquered country.” The paper in those years did not hesitate to criticise legal tribunals as well. Commenting on the arrest of Bal Gangadhar Tilak in Poona in 1897, The Hindu wrote: “The Indian Press would not do its duty if it fails to write strongly and with indignation on the mad doings of the Bombay Government and so long as it has the freedom which the law gives it, it would write frankly and freely and would recognise no vocation in a constant singing of hallelujas to the European services.” After Tilak was sentenced, the newspaper commented: “The British Government in India would appear to have taken leave of its old traditions of freedom, benevolence and popular sympathy and have fallen entirely into the ways of irresponsible reactionaries…” Subramania Aiyer was willing to take on anyone and any institution if convinced he was right. He accused Reuters of “tendentious reports” on India and was “thunderstruck” by the The Times, London’s “mendacity” and willingness to publish “trash from… India.”

But over the years it was against The Mail and The Madras Times that The Hindu, first in Subramania Aiyer’s day and then, to a lesser degree in Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s, waged some of its most epic battles. On one occasion, The Hindu wrote: “Impartial judges will… distinguish between Indian and Anglo- Indian journals in regard to their policies, motives and ends. Anglo-Indian journals have not the same inducements or interests as Indian journals have in watching the administration in the districts and calling public attention to official misdeeds.” Some months later, rebuking The Mail for its remarks about The Hindu, the paper wrote: “It is time that the Madras Mail ceased writing nonsense about The Hindu.” Such Delphic pronouncements running into columns and enthusiastic encouragement of letters from its readers were to be the hallmark of “the Oracle of Mount Road” for decades to come. The political pronouncement has been important to The Hindu from its earliest days. Since the paper has catered to an erudite readership, the formula has worked and the paper has gone from success to success. Within three months of coming out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening, the owners felt that the demand for the paper could only be met if they had their own press. They therefore rented new premises, had Rajoo Pathur of Arulanandam & Sons equip it to meet their requirements, and moved to 100 Mount Road on December 3, 1883.

The new place of business — established on borrowed capital when public subscriptions were not forthcoming — was called ‘The National Press’. A new era in Indian journalism was to begin. The building itself became The Hindu’s in 1892, after the Maharaja of Vizianagaram, Ananda Gajapathi Raja, generously gave The National Press a loan both for the building and to carry out needed expansion. From the new address, 100 Mount Road, which was to remain The Hindu’s home till 1939, there issued a quarto-size paper with a front-page full of advertisements — a practice that came to an end only in 1958 when it followed the lead of its idol, the pre-Thompson Times, London — and three back pages also at the service of the advertiser. In between, there were more views than news. From the beginning, the paper carried a London Letter (the first correspondent being a mystery) and a considerable amount of Indian news from the Imperial capital — Calcutta and, subsequently, Delhi. It was this that made The Hindu a newspaper with a national outlook from its inception. Nevertheless, the paper had room to spare for comment on such local matters as the lighting up of Grant- Duff’s Marina and the Banqueting Hall, and the tragic fire at the People’s Park Christmas Fair in 1887.

As early as in the 1890s, when sport was still to develop in Madras, the paper briefly reported county cricket and local matches, condemned racial discrimination at Chepauk, and carried pieces on “Mr. Ranjit Sinhji”. The Hindu’s national image was enhanced when it announced the birth of the Indian National Congress on December 12, 1885: “The objective of the Congress… is to bring to a focus our scattered political energy and to give solidity and organisation to native opinion… [on such] topics in which… all parts of the country are interested…” The status of The Hindu was made even more secure when its Editor moved the first-ever resolution of the Congress at the inaugural session in Bombay on December 28, 1885. From the birth of the Congress, The Hindu emphasised the secular nature of the Party, a reflection of its own commitment to secularism.

When a child died in a Triplicane home where there had been a widow remarriage and the community would not help at the funeral, Subramania Aiyer sent his own purohit to officiate. One day in 1893, The Hindu carried a display advertisement with the heading: “Wanted Virgin Widows to Marry.” The paper did not tread softly when attacking orthodoxy: “The Hindu that offends the orthodoxy is not argued with but is persecuted and denied all the pleasures of association and the solace of religion. It is this intolerance that has killed individuality in the country. The arbitrary power exercised by a section of the Hindu society has so far demoralised the whole that it has become utterly insensible to the needs of its own well-being. To exercise this arbitrary power… to see its own capricious and fossilised regulations implicitly obeyed without regard to change and changing condition… has become the end it is ever conscious of; it will even calmly face its own destruction rather than admit itself to be wrong in any respect and adopt change.” Subramania Aiyer also wrote that “the degraded condition” of Dalits was “notorious and the peculiarities of the Hindu social system are such that from this system no hope whatever of their amelioration can be entertained.” It seemed hopeless, he commented, for Dalits “to expect redemption from anything that the Hindu might do” and “no amount of admiration for our religion will bring social salvation to these poor people.” The Hindu was Subramania Aiyer’s vehicle for social reform crusades. In a conservative society, it was inevitable that such zeal would encounter a hostile backlash. Veeraraghavachariar, in charge of the business side, found the repercussions squeezing the paper’s finances. Not only was circulation dropping as orthodoxy broke with it, the heavy damages awarded in three of four defamation suits against the newspaper and a compromise in the fourth also hurt. The times were not ripe for the entire Subramania Formula and, after his return from England in 1897, he restrained himself in anguish, responding to the organisation man Veeraraghavachariar, “the custodian of Congress prestige in Madras.” But literary silence was foreign to that disciplinarian and man of few spoken words, Subramania Aiyer, even when it came to protecting a losing investment. Soon the bickering resumed, fundamentally over the issues of social legislation, for which, Veeraraghavachariar contended, the newspaper’s readership was not ready. He came to the conclusion that continuing with Subramania Aiyer’s policies would neither increase circulation nor bring financial help from outside to The Hindu. There was an inevitable parting of ways and the partnership was dissolved in October 1898, Norton presiding over the formalities. Veeraraghavachariar was to say later that Subramania Aiyer had quit because he had become “disheartened on account of the heavy encumbrances of The Hindu” and his desire to quit had come “as a thunderbolt” to the Managing Director.

Within days of the break, Subramania Aiyer took over full-time the editorship of the Swadesamitran while Veeraraghavachariar took over the entire business of the struggling newspaper. Veeraraghavachariar appointed C. Karunakara Menon, who had been with the paper from its first days, as Editor. Of Menon, Veeraraghavachariar had this to say five years later: “I have every reason to be proud that he has maintained the prestige of the paper unimpaired, coming as he did after Mr. G. Subramania Aiyer.” But the bitterness of the dispute between the two friends never really healed. A response from Veeraraghavachariar in his Tamil bi-weekly, Hindu Nesam, led to Subramania Aiyer suing him for defamation. A published apology, however, settled the case. Subramania Aiyer, who has been called the greatest journalist of his generation, felt there was no hope for an India living with the traditions of the past. In Western training and attitudes to society alone did this nationalist see hope for India. Even as late as 1903, at the Silver Jubilee celebrations of The Hindu, he was speaking out in favour of “change, reforms and progress” and warning that “blind and thoughtless conservatism lead to stagnation and eventual ruin.” Long before the women’s liberation movement, he felt that what was offensive in Hindu society was its treatment of women. Today, the ideals he fought for are enshrined in the Constitution. Subramania Aiyer did not think that de mortuis nil nisi bonum should be a matter of policy. In unsparingly reviewing the work of the dead, he felt: “When a man dies we can review his work fully. The dead do not care what we write. Let the living take a lesson from our policy… Let all feel that even when they die their defects — if they injure the national cause and national self-respect — will not be forgiven.” He himself lived up to this code — to a point.

The Kasturi Ranga Iyengar era: Making news the family business

For a while after Subramania Aiyer left The Hindu, it seemed the growing tree might wither. The 12 pages contained far less news, much more non-controversial views, and six pages of advertising. But despite a Sunday supplement, introduced late in 1898, attempts to rent out a portion of the building, and willingness to undertake commercial printing such as printing textbooks, the paper barely managed to survive. In 1901, Veeraraghavachariar attempted to make The Hindu a limited company with a capital of Rs. 1,20,000. But the scheme failed with less than half the offered 1,200 shares being subscribed. With an eye on revenue, The Hindu’s adventurousness began to decline in the 1900s and so did its circulation, which was down

to 800 copies when the sole proprietor decided to sell out. The purchaser was The Hindu’s Legal Adviser from 1895, S. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, a politically ambitious lawyer who had migrated from a Kumbakonam village to practise in Coimbatore and from thence to Madras. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s ancestors had served the courts of Vijayanagar and Mahratta Tanjore. He traded law, in which his success was middling but his interest minimal, for journalism, pursuing his penchant for politics honed in Coimbatore and by his association with the ‘Egmore Group’ led by C. Sankaran Nair and T.M. Nair. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar was past 40 when he decided to buy The National Press and its major publication, The Hindu, much against the advice of friends and relatives, who termed it “a mad venture.”

On April 1, 1905, he took over the paper for a consideration of Rs.75,000, retaining Veeraraghavachariar as Manager, Karunakara Menon as Joint Editor, and hoping that Sankara Menon and T. Rangachari, his two partners in the initial investment, would stay on in the business. Within a matter of months all of them quit and, by July 1905, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar was in sole charge. Later that year, he persuaded his nephew, A. Rangaswami Iyengar, a Tanjore lawyer, to join the newspaper as Assistant Editor and Manager. From the first, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar treated The Hindu as the family’s sole business, a tradition continued to this day. He soon generated good advertising revenue from both Indian and English firms. Subscribers in arrears just did not get the paper any more. The Hindu only wanted paid up subscriptions. All this ensured that by 1910 he was able to pay off accumulated liabilities and was free of survival of business anxieties. At the same time, he ensured that readers got their money’s worth — a newspaper with much more upto- date news. He subscribed to the Reuters telegraphic news service and published court cases in extenso. He provided space for a weather report, shipping and commercial information and “Sporting News”, continuing with the practice Subramania Aiyer had started of reporting English cricket and beginning a new tradition of reporting horse racing. The formula worked, with Kasturi Ranga Iyengar ending his first year with a profit of Rs. 150.

He also shaped a new editorial policy for the paper. In July 1905, The Hindu wrote of “A Pauperised India.” Wondering whether there was “now a single intelligent Indian who still cherishes a hope that the British Parliament will ultimately save India from ruin,” it went on to assert that India’s hope lay not in British statesmanship but “solely and entirely in her own exertions.” A month later The Hindu wrote: “The only wise, beneficial and permanent arrangement is to transfer the chief control over the Government of India… to… the people who alone are the rightful and competent guardians of the country’s interests.” This was a radical break with the Subramania Aiyer past. The Hindu was saying “Quit India” long before the Congress. However, it was not this policy that was to establish The Hindu as the south Indian’s adjunct to his steaming morning coffee. It was, among other things, its strong focus on Madras Province news — ranging from angry editorial outbursts to genial reporting of Governors’ tea parties.

Some of the most trenchant comment in the newspaper’s history was made when Arbuthnot and Co., one of the oldest commercial institutions in Madras and the Presidency’s leading bank, crashed in 1906. Its failure, it was observed, was “the ruin of many hundreds of families in Southern India.” The Bank’s insolvency affected thousands, from Governor Lawley and Maharajas to those investors of “the earning classes.” The Hindu, which called the business of Arbuthnot and Co. “a swindle of the vilest description… decoying innumerable innocent men and women into investing in its rapacious maw,” campaigned for over a year seeking justice for the investors. It may have been instrumental in getting Sir George Arbuthnot, a powerful figure in India, convicted of misappropriation. More significantly, The Hindu established its reputation as a newspaper concerned for the man in the south Indian sun. And its encouragement led to the establishment of the Indian Bank. By 1912, The Hindu was a 16- page folio-sized newspaper (half the size of today’s paper) and was devoting a considerable amount of space to tilting at Annie Besant, whose contentions were first questioned by Subramania Aiyer in 1894.

In the next quarter of a century, The Hindu crossed words interminably with Annie Besant and her New India, clashing over theosophy, J. Krishnamurthi and Gandhiji and agreeing only on her Home Rule Movement. The highly personalised bitter attacks and counter-attacks would come as a surprise to readers of The Hindu of today. For instance, the newspaper commented: “Only fools or mad men could believe in this 20th century that the boy Krishnamurthi is an incarnation of the divinity. Mrs. Annie Besant and Leadbeater have made up a story of the sacred mission of the boy.” The Hindu successfully defended two criminal prosecutions for defamation, leading the Theosophical Society and Besant withdrawing two civil suits, for Rs. 2,00,000, they had filed against the paper. Then, in 1920, The Hindu opposed the proposed marriage of Theosophist G.S. Arundale and a Hindu girl who, it claimed, was a minor. It warned Arundale and Besant that “their responsibilities will be terrible” and that “the reaction of such a step on their political and educational activities will be intense.” Nevertheless, the 40-year-old Arundale married the 16-year-old Rukmini Nilakanta Sastri in a civil ceremony in Bombay and The Hindu was left gnashing its teeth. Between its two vigorous campaigns against Besant, The Hindu proved to be one of her more ardent supporters when in 1914 she launched her Home Rule Movement. When in May 1916, the Madras Government demanded a security of Rs. 2,000 from New India under the Indian Press Act, 1910, The Hindu protested strongly. “The public will have no difficulty”, it editorialised, “in coming to the conclusion that this arbitrary step has been taken to undermine the influence of Mrs. Annie Besant, an Englishwoman of striking personality and generous instincts, who has done splendid service in the cause of India and who has recently given a powerful stimulus to the movement for self-government for India.” In June of the same year, The Hindu referred to rumours of an impending repressive policy in Madras and action against Besant and commented: “It would be an injury of a grave kind not only to Mrs. Besant personally but to the people of the country for whom she has been rendering invaluable services.” In a moving letter to the Editor, Mrs. Besant wrote: “Dear Mr. Kasturi Ranga, May I say a word of thanks for your very kind words about me yesterday. I am expecting an order which will silence me, so this will be my last word.”

Meanwhile, its war of words with The Mail continued unabated. The Mail in November 1917 charged The Hindu with profiting from the advertisements of European businessmen while characterising them as “glorified grocers” for the political demands they made. In its reply, The Hindu argued that their money was “not any more tainted because their opinions on the future ordering of this country happen to differ from ours” and gave the assurance that “we shall certainly not model our political opinions to suit the views of our advertisers.” On the principal national issues, the paper was more restrained although its stand was clear. Initially continuing to affirm its loyalty to the British throne, it gradually shifted its stand from Moderatism to Tilakian and Gandhian opposition, the change beginning in 1918 with the publication of the Montagu- Chelmsford Reforms. This was The Hindu’s finest hour: its cause became the independence of India and its story was inextricably intertwined with the saga of the Indian freedom struggle. The Hindu’s deep commitment to steps leading to an independent India was manifest in the years following the Great War, though the paper hailed the victory by the Allies. It strongly opposed the Moderates and was stridently vocal against Government repression. In 1919, the paper was in trouble for its reports and comments following the Jallianwalabagh massacre when it felt that the Government had “run mad.” It observed that there was “no question that in India the authorities are too ready to take extreme measures at the slightest provocation” and that “the sanctity of human life has no application in India.” It charged: “We have no hesitation in asserting that this handing over of the city [Amritsar] to the military as well as the subsequent atrocities, the crawling, the stoppage of water supply, and the crowning atrocity at Jallianwalabagh were all part of a deep laid plan to make an example of the city, to do something that would strike terror into the heart of the Punjab, to teach India a lesson that she should not forget in 50 years… It is therefore a moral certainty that the police, presumably with the knowledge and connivance of Gen. Dyer, took steps to make the massacre as successful as possible.”

The Hindu was no less forthright on local issues when it felt the path of propriety had not been followed. It was “pained and surprised” by the Justice Party’s manifesto, which it published in full but strongly criticised for creating “bad blood between persons belonging to the same great Indian community who have been living hitherto in perfect harmony and to whom good sense should suggest that there is nothing more suicidal at this moment and perilous to the national cause than to create causes for mutual discord and to play into the hands of the enemies of the national progress.” It was willing, however, to react more favourably to parts of the manifesto, which were “in the direction of social and educational progress and in securing a sufficient representation of their [non- Brahmin] separate interests in any scheme of political reform.”

Associated with Kasturi Ranga Iyengar during this glorious period of vociferous dissent, when the newspaper repeatedly clashed with the Government as well as political and cultural leaders of various hues, not to mention rival newspapers, were his two nephews who served as Assistant Editors, S. Rangaswami and, for a while, A. Rangaswami Iyengar. Both became famous Editors of The Hindu and died in harness in the decade that followed Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s passing in December 1923.

The era of the cousins: A clarion call against the Raj

An ardent Congressman, an admirer of Tilak and direct action, but above all a man who sought a new and free India, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar made the voice of The Hindu “a clarion call that might annoy but could not be ignored.” Throughout his editorship, his policy was “that no leader is above criticism because he is well meaning, that no policy is sacrosanct as such.” And Tilak himself learnt this. When Kasturi Ranga Iyengar died in December 1923, he left a paper with a circulation of 17,000 and considerable advertising support, a paper recognised by both officialdom and the citizenry as a major communication force. To make all this technically possible he had, between 1921 and 1923, installed the first rotary printing press in south India and modern linotype composing machines, setting the trend the paper follows to this day of being first with modern newspaper technology in India. He arranged for an efficient news-by telegram service and ensured quick delivery of the paper to remote areas. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar had taken over a paper with “a high political reputation and as low a financial outlook as possible” — a paper in which Subramania Aiyer had made “righteousness readable” — and made it a paying proposition. He made “readable righteousness” remunerative, but not at the expense of human interest — often at its most interesting in the extensive readers’ column — leavening humour, and comprehensive coverage of meetings down to those of even sanitary inspectors. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar was succeeded by S. Rangaswami, son of his eldest brother. Rangaswami, a lawyer who joined The Hindu as an Assistant Editor in 1910, made his name with incisive “elucidation, reviews and comment” on the battles of the Great War. He went on to develop into a wielder of a brilliant, caustic and critical pen. He was just the man for Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s campaigns of moral indignation. An avid reader of everything from penny dreadfuls to world literature, a perennial protester against the social and moral conventions of society, especially Brahmin society, he contributed trenchant writings that were masterpieces of satire and irony. His exchanges with the eloquent V.S. Srinivasa Sastri were epic. It was S. Rangaswami who described the Moderates as “moderates only in their patriotism” and Moderatism as “not a policy but a disease.” He advised Moderates afraid that the Reforms would be withdrawn that “there are occasions on which it is wiser to let go the bird in the hand and pin our hopes on those in the bush.” If The Hindu of this time did not hesitate to chastise the British, it was no less ready to take on Gandhiji, of whom S. Rangaswami wrote in 1920: “It is perhaps India’s misfortune than Mr. Gandhi’s fault that he should be possessed of a mind so mercilessly logical. Prepared himself for the greatest of sacrifices, it is open to question whether he does not impose on his following conditions the rigour of which is greater than it can bear.” He added: “The strength of a chain is not in its strongest but its weakest link… Does Mr. Gandhi seriously think the [non-cooperation] movement will retain its outstanding characteristic of non-violence concurrently with chaos, anarchy and disorder?” He wrote: “For our part we do not think the British connection is sacrosanct and have not hesitated to say so… There is no divine right about the British connection. If India is held by the sword it is her right to free herself by the sword. If she is not, she has a right to be treated on a status of equality... We advocate a campaign, Mr. Gandhi advocates a forlorn hope. According to our plan we cannot afford to leave untried and untested every possible means to the end in view.” It was, however, for Srinivasa Sastri that S. Rangaswami reserved his choicest language. Describing “the official apologist” as “the pet lamb of the British Government,” The Hindu wrote: “It was said of the Austrians that they had a genius for defeat. It may be said with equal justice of Mr. Sastri that he had a genius for surrender and this is the man who is nowhere less honoured than in his own presidency…” To Sastri’s credit it must be stated that in The Hindu’s Diamond Jubilee supplement in 1939, he let bygones be and wrote: “For several years after the paper passed into the hands of Mr. Kasturi Ranga Iyengar, my sayings and doings ran athwart his policy. I was no favourite with him and figured frequently in his columns as a Servant of India whose services India could do without. This Babylonian exile, however, was not everlasting. I recall with gratitude many a pat on the back which betokened my restoration to grace and in particular an indignant protest against the persistent abuse of which I was victim at the hands of Justice, then alive, and spitting fire and brim-stone.” While S. Rangaswami wielded a pen that scorched paper, K. Srinivasan, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s son, attended to management, playing more and more of a major role as his father’s health deteriorated in the early 1920s. He teamed with Rangaswami and his brother, K. Gopalan, to turn the paper into a financial success. Together they remodelled the methods of production and circulation. A battery of Linotype machines and a new high-speed rotary printing machine were in place by 1921. Space for ‘Commercial’, ‘Financial’ and ‘Sporting’ features was increased. And so were wages for all — which were supplemented by a Provident Fund. An even faster rotary machine capable of printing 30,000 copies an hour was ordered. Together they introduced numerous entertaining features to brighten the paper. In the mid-1920s, The Hindu introduced cartoons, a full picture page, a weekly woman’s page, short stories and humorous skits aplenty — and the paper included among its exclusive contributors Jawaharlal Nehru, Krishna Menon, Subhas Chandra Bose and a galaxy of writers from abroad introduced through syndicated services. It published wedding photographs, pictures of arrivals and departures (this exposure becoming a status symbol), of social functions and entertainments, of successful persons and new appointees. It was a paper as game to publish a whole page of pictures of Governor Lord Goschen’s daughter’s Madras wedding as it was to publish pictures of the ex-Maharaja of Indore and his American fiancee as well as columns of reports on their international romance. It was a natural and successful partnership that lasted until Rangaswami’s untimely death in 1926 — his memory now commemorated only in the trophy for national supremacy in the game he loved, hockey, the Rangaswamy Cup presented by The Hindu in 1957. The liveliness gradually declined when A. Rangaswami Iyengar rejoined as Editor in 1928, fading out almost completely in the 1930s. The sports page, the weekly women’s page, the pictorial page and the erudite weekly Literary Supplement, however, survived till World War II, but only the first named came through the restrictive rigours of that holocaust. Rangaswami Iyengar, son of Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s sister, was of a different mould from S. Rangaswami. A man of moderate political views, he left The Hindu in 1915 to edit the Swadesamitran, which was to make him an all-India figure. A constitutional expert, Rangaswami Iyengar was an important man in the Congress machinery; he had been its Secretary twice. Srinivasan persuaded him to give up the Secretaryship and return to The Hindu. Rangaswami Iyengar not only agreed to give up a key political position, but also committed himself to helping The Hindu maintain its reputation as an independent, if less hardline, newspaper. A politician-journalist and a man who took a legalistic view of public affairs, Rangaswami Iyengar constantly strove to bring the official and unofficial worlds closer, using his remarkable political insight to make The Hindu a vehicle of political thought. With him began an era of moderation and conciliation ending the more firebrand eras of Kasturi Ranga Iyengar and S. Rangaswami. To Rangaswami Iyengar, “unjust” if used with indisputable facts was as effective a word as “damned unjust,” a view The Hindu has rather stuck to ever since. Together, Rangaswami Iyengar and Srinivasan saw Civil Disobedience going nowhere. The Hindu argued in the Editor’s best lawyer manner: “Everyone will agree with him [Gandhiji]… on the message of non-violence preached by him in the darkest days of India’s travail. By adopting it as ‘the right route to our goal’ in 1920 the country has gained in political stature, momentum and power; we see the evidence of it in the mass consciousness of national self-respect that has made itself felt both by our rulers and by the world at large. But neither the country as a whole nor many leading Congressmen will agree with the views which Gandhiji has put forward of the tenet of non-violence and its scope in practical application… [as a commitment] for all time… It cannot… be contended that the Congress has been irrevocably committed to it… It can hardly appeal to those politically minded Congressmen who still feel that mankind will have to travel a long, long way before such a lofty goal could be realised.” This was almost the last influence on The Hindu of A. Rangaswami Iyengar who had once acted as Gandhi’s secretary at the London Round Table Conference. With his death in 1934, Srinivasan became Managing Editor, the post he held till his death in 1959, assisted by his younger brother Gopalan, co-proprietor, Printer and Publisher. It was on the question of the freedom of the press that The Hindu of Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s day, and to an extent during his son Srinivasan’s stewardship, waxed most eloquent. The newspaper first strongly asserted its views on the question of press freedom in the wake of its comments on the Punjab turmoil, when the Government sought security deposits from it for good behaviour. The paper answered: “We feel no doubt that the action of the Madras Government… is a violent stretch of the arbitrary power conferred by the Act. It is a gross and dangerous infringement of the liberty of the Press and if the present policy is continued it must lead to the extinguishment of honest and independent journalism in this country. So far as The Hindu is concerned, the contemplation of a perverted application of the Press Act and the involving of it into further pains and penalties will not have the result of inducing it to swerve from its past traditions and the path of journalistic independence and rectitude which it has always maintained.” During the Moplah Rebellion of 1921 — its climax being the death of 66 out of 100 prisoners who were confined overnight in a closed iron wagon that was part of the Calicut-Madras train — The Hindu asserted its independence when asked to publish only official reports. “We may be wrong,” it said, “but we feel that an attempt is being made to put the Press in blinkers and we do not propose to submit ourselves to that operation. Putting it bluntly, the public have no confidence in official accounts and to ask us to refuse publication to others unless they have the imprimatur of departmentalised truth is asking us to betray our responsibility to the public.” The era of the cousins was marked by the bluntness of S. Rangaswami and Rangaswami Iyengar’s reasoned criticism in blunted words.

The Kasturi Srinivasan era: Treading softly but modernising apace

The old era ended and the paper passed into a new one when Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s full-length portrait was unveiled in 100 Mount Road in March 1925 by Mahatma Gandhi. By the time Kasturi Srinivasan took over The Hindu, he had a sound investment to protect. So in spite of being almost as ardent a Congressman as his Tilak-admiring and battle-welcoming father, he preferred to tread softly. He continued to champion the freedom of the press. When Devadas Gandhi of The Hindustan Times was arrested during the 1942 Quit India agitation, The Hindu commented: “This is an order that simply takes our breath away…the Chief Commissioner makes it impossible for them (the press) to fulfil their duty to the public which is to give it all the news which in their judgement is fit to print.” Srinivasan, presiding over the All- India Newspaper Editors’ Conference (AINEC) that he had helped found in 1941, said: “There is no question of our willing submission to any proposal which in our opinion is derogatory to the profession or in any way prevents us from functioning as responsible newspapers.” These convictions he demonstrated in action when, late in 1942, the Government banned publication of news of the fast by a Professor Bhansali. In retaliation, Srinivasan led the AINEC in blacking out Government circulars, Honours Lists and speeches. When the Government reacted to these tactics by withdrawing facilities to the paper’s reporters, The Hindu commented: “No popular Government would dream of brushing aside the public’s rights so lightly as the Madras Government has shown itself ready to do, since it would clearly see that such action would really amount to cutting off the nose to spite the face.” On January 6, 1943, it went so far as to suspend publication

in protest. As late as April 1951, discussing proposed amendments to the Constitution, The Hindu entered into a lengthy argument with Prime Minister Nehru, asking him to leave the Press alone. The Hindu criticised Nehru for looking upon the Press “more or less as a kind of permanent opposition” and advised him to “free himself from the obsession” that the Press was “incapable of taking an unbiased or rational view of Government’s policies.” The Hindu in the 1930s and the 1940s also paid considerable attention to the drums of war and the War itself. The Second World War had the newspaper looking at the international scene from various angles. There was the Indian viewpoint: “Great Britain has made no efforts… to get into touch with leaders of Indian opinion… This is the more surprising when it is remembered that a big, nay, decisive factor in any struggle into which she may enter or be drawn would be the attitude of the Indian people.” The paper reiterated the point a few days later: “If India is to throw her weight actively on the side of the democracies in case a struggle is unavoidable, it is obvious that the shortest way to set about it is for Britain to call Gandhiji to the council table of the Commonwealth in this hour of crisis and to make it possible for him to respond to that call.” On the War itself, The Hindu made its viewpoint clear on September 1, 1939: “The lights are going out once again in Europe and soon there will be total darkness in which the evil forces of destruction will bring civilisation itself into jeopardy.” The paper was equally unequivocal in its disapproval of the negative attitude of Britain’s wartime hero, Winston Churchill, towards India: “There is little doubt that though he may win the war for Britain he would lose the peace if he had his way. He would do his best to restore the status quo with all its age-long inequalities, injustices and slaveries.” It also criticised President Roosevelt for “so completely [failing] to grasp [this] central fact.” But while Srinivasan and The Hindu cogently argued the case for India’s independence, both were uncertain about the ability of the masses to take charge of their future. As late as 1949, when the Constitution was being shaped, The Hindu was editorially suggesting that the introduction of universal adult franchise be put off: “It will not be an easy thing for the common people, defenceless in their ignorance, to resist plausible sophisters who beckon them to the promised land... Nothing will be lost by postponing this tremendous and hazardous experiment for a few years.” The Srinivasan era was one in which The Hindu adopted a firm but conciliatory attitude, towards both government and Congress, convinced that freedom would come with negotiation. The paper and its leadership played no little role in the Congress accepting office in the States. No less was The Hindu’s concern for India’s economic future: as a newspaper of record, it published the first fiveyear plan dreamed up by an Indian, M. Visweswarayya, the great Mysore planner. On another occasion, the newspaper reflected that while a great leader might, facing a crisis in national affairs, enthuse the people to “superb heights of altruistic idealism,” it was “bread and butter considerations that sustain[ed] the common man in his work-a-day life.” In the first year of freedom, the paper paid considerable attention to the direction Government should take in economic matters, taking a stand on the paths to development: “Production is the need of the hour and production can be achieved only by hard sustained work… If we are to concentrate on production it is only common sense that we should not at the same time rudely shatter the fabric of economic relations by launching on what is vaguely envisaged as ‘socialism’.” In 1952, The Hindu made its position on such issues even clearer: “There are limits to State action and quite definite limits to the improvements which can be effected by State ownership or management. The wise rule for the Government would be to limit the fields of its own direct management to the narrowest confines and to leave as wide a field as possible to private initiative and enterprise.” Two other issues of significance on which The Hindu took significant stands during Srinivasan’s stewardship were the formation of linguistic States and the status of Hindi. On the first question, it went along with the concept resignedly, commenting: “Whatever the historical reasons or accidents which determined their birth, many of the existing provinces are unilingual for all practical purposes… There is a dominant feeling in many areas and an overwhelming one in some in favour of giving every well-defined linguistic unit the right to govern itself in regard to its domestic affairs consistent with maintaining the larger unity of India unimpaired… If popular sentiment is predominantly in favour of such a settlement it cannot possibly be prevented in the long run and it might even be undesirable to make the attempt.” As for Hindi, The Hindu proposed that “the whole of India must be given a chance to familiarise itself with Hindi before bringing it for official use, where precision and clear understanding of meaning is essential” and that “before Hindi can take the place that English now occupies it must overcome certain serious defects which now make it unsuitable for use as a common medium.” Even as editorial policy was moderated and news and entertaining reading began to grow in impor importance under Srinivasan, management and business — aimed at modernisation — began to play a more significant role at 100 Mount Road. During the two decades before the War’s end, The Hindu made significant innovative strides. By 1927, it had grown to standard broadsheet size, publishing at least 12 pages daily, but remained an evening paper. As early as 1921, a rotary printing press, “the first of its kind in the East,” had been installed at 100 Mount Road. Soon its capacity came under pressure, as the paper’s circulation began to exceed the 17,000 copies the machine had to print when it was installed. It was only in 1928 that The National Press was financially in a position to install a new rotary. This enabled The Hindu to print a 24- page broadsheet at 30,000 copies an hour. In anticipation of this high-speed machine, the astute Srinivasan had replaced the traditional hand-composing practice of typesetting with mechanised Monotype, Linotype and Ludlow typesetting machines. It was not long before equipment to convert photography into half-tone blocks for printing arrived to complete the process of making The Hindu one of India’s most modern newspaper presses. Photography became a regular feature in the 1920s. Around this time, Srinivasan even introduced illustrated jokes to fill space at the end of columns. He took this a step forward when, in October 1925, the paper published its first political cartoon by one who signed himself ‘Horace’ and remains anonymous to this day. The inability to find a regular cartoonist made cartooning in the paper not only infrequent but of variable quality. When The Hindu began publishing regular cartoons, they were by David Low; his work, introduced with some fanfare, first appeared in the paper in 1933 and continued until the celebrated cartoonist’s death in 1963. Among the features introduced at this time was a weekly ‘Literature- Art-Philosophy’ page. In 1927 this evolved into The Hindu’s Educational and Literary Supplement, a separate folio-size publication that, like The Times, London’s Literary and Educational Supplements, gained an international reputation for quality and urbaneness. This publication went through various metamorphoses, but survives as the-once-a-month Literary Review that appears with the Sunday paper today. That paper itself started as The Hindu Illustrated Weekly, a stand-alone, differently formatted journal containing the best writing from the week’s daily issues and targeting readers in other parts of India. With Dandapani Aiyer in charge — one of those rare journalists who had a passion for printing as well as photography — it was much sought after as a high-quality journal, both for its content as for its presentation and print quality. The Depression, however, proved its nemesis. In 1936, a broadsheet Sunday Magazine Edition, one of the first in the country and an adjunct of the main paper, made its appearance. Another quality publication, The Hindu Annual, which had appeared in 1923 with features and short stories by well-known authors, did not last long. When Dandapani Aiyer joined the staff in 1926, he persuaded Srinivasan to make it a glossy, illustrated publication priced at an unheard-of-at the time Re.1. The publication was to prove a popular gift item, but in the end proved unsustainable. Other features Srinivasan introduced to make the paper live up to its reputation of being “The Manchester Guardian of India” were ‘Commerce-Engineering-Industries- Machinery’, a feature ahead of its time in a non-industrialised country, and a weekly feature for women readers, “Our Ladies’ Column”, by the first woman graduate and women’s journal editor in the south, Kamala Sathianathan. In the mid-1930s, after Srinivasan had become the first Managing Editor of a paper in India, The Hindu introduced a cinema page and a gardening page. But as important as technological improvement and content upgradation were two transformations that occurred in the newspaper during the Srinivasan era — both of which he introduced with the greatest reluctance. In 1930, he experimented with bringing out The Hindu as a morning paper but soon dropped the idea. But the time zones of World War II demanded a morning paper and, so, from November 11, 1940, The Hindu arrived at the city reader’s doorstep at dawn and soon became an inseparable adjunct of that Madras addiction, ‘morning coffee’. The 1930s was also an era when the world’s newspapers were beginning to front-page news. Srinivasan resisted the temptation but on June 2, 1941, a Monday, The Hindu startled its readers by front-paging the news. However, he assured them, this would be a practice followed only on Mondays — when advertising was lean and editorials were not written. It also proved to be only a wartime practice. It took 17 years to make the change permanent — on January 14, 1958. Before this happened, the paper meticulously prepared both readers and advertisers for the new practice with circulars and a month-long advertising campaign, followed by a sample of what to expect delivered to 85,000 readers in miniature. The ‘new look’ did not introduce the flamboyant layouts being followed by newspapers round the world. The Hindu continued with the restrained style it had learnt from The Times, London, but in front-paging the news it offered for the first time a few double column headlines. Significantly, most readers welcomed the changes — and others that began to appear with greater frequency in the years since. Yet another major change was the introduction of a new masthead. The Hindu had started with a stark typeface and then Gothicised it. Along the way it had added a crest that was better suited to the Raj — the lion and the unicorn accompanied by Britain’s motto, Dieu et mon Droit (For God and my Right). In 1935, Kamadhenu, the divine cow, representing prosperity, and Airavatham, the divine elephant, representing strength, replaced the Raj’s animals and bracketed a shield that rested on a lotus. The shield bore an outline map of India with a conch in the centre. Blades of grass sprouted on both sides of the crest. Although neither name nor crest nor the changes were ever explained, the founders and those who followed them were clear that the ‘Hindu’ in the paper’s name was no communal statement. It represented the people of Hindustan and was synonymous with ‘Indian’ (as had once been explained). In 1958, there was a further change. The Gothic masthead was given up for a more modern, easier- to-read type. The simple new type, which continues to this day with some variation, is a harking back to what ‘The Triplicane Six’ had started out with. And so was front-paging the news. Advertising on the front page in the 19th century Hindu became a practice only a few months after the paper started. A few other additions to keep up with the changing times were introduced in the newspaper during this era. Srinivasan’s brother, Gopalan, Partner and also Publisher and Printer of the paper from 1927, was passionate about sport, particularly hockey, which he had played well in college. He had a hand in launching India’s first sports magazine, Sport and Pastime, on September 10, 1947. It was to become one of India’s favourite magazines until its demise in 1968. Gopalan also contributed towards making the paper’s sports pages the best in the country — comprehensive and literate — which they remain today. The other new publication was The Hindu Weekly Review, launched in August 1953 to keep overseas readers in touch with the paper. Printed on ‘airmail paper’ to make economic use of air transport, it carried the most important news stories and best features and local pictures of the week. All these improvements to the paper and additions to The National Press stable were backed by appreciation of modern technology combined with close attention to the economics of the business. In 1929, when the first Indian air mail plane landed at Karachi, it brought The Hindu’s first “air mail stories” from London — 11 of them. Over the years, Srinivasan, who was fascinated by air transport, was to strengthen the paper’s commitment to using aircraft directly in the news business. In 1938, The Hindu became the first newspaper in the country to have a teleprinter connection from the Central Telegraph Office to receive the news. By 1949, when greater use of teleprinter lines became feasible, The Hindu was the first paper to make use of the Government’s offer, setting up its own link with Bombay and, then, with Delhi. Dedicated links to other cities were added later. With communication becoming easier and faster, Srinivasan led The Hindu into taking a greater interest in the wider world. Frederick Grubb had from 1911 been The Hindu’s London Correspondent, its first international reporter. When he retired in 1933, the newspaper opened in London its first overseas office, and Leonard Matters headed it. After World War II, The Hindu became one of the first Indian newspapers to have fulltime correspondents in other countries. K. Balaraman went to New York in 1948 and was to stay there till 1961, establishing an envious reputation of reporting the American scene racily. He was to head the U.N. Correspondents’ Association and the Foreign Correspondents’ Association in the U.S. — the only Asian to do so till he left the country — and was once named the “Foreign Correspondent of the Year.” K.V. Narain became the newspaper’s correspondent in Tokyo, where an office was opened in 1957. There were correspondents of The Hindu in nearly a dozen countries. Even as The Hindu reached out abroad, it expanded at home. With its circulation racing to 40,000 by the late 1930s, it needed larger premises. The Oakes’ Mount Road workshop, owned by Spencer’s, and the considerable unutilised space around it, were on the market. On this three-acre site, Srinivasan entrusted the design of what was to be named “Kasturi Buildings” to H. Fellowes Prynne of Jackson and Barker, architects. The civil construction was contracted to the Modern Construction Company. Srinivasan was determined to have The Hindu celebrate its Diamond Jubilee in its new home, but he had to overcome the challenge of shifting the paper’s printing press and related facilities without interrupting production. The answer was a new rotary printing press. The machine The Hindu ordered was the most modern available at the time; it was capable of printing 32 pages at a time at a speed of 40,000 copies an hour. The new press also offered spot colour printing simultaneously on the run. The Hindu thus became the first in India to offer colour in a newspaper. “Kasturi Buildings” was ready for occupation and the press ready for use only in December 1939, so The Hindu celebrated its Diamond Jubilee, due in September 1938, only after it moved to the new premises that are now 859 and 860 Anna Salai. 100 Mount Road soon had a new tenant. When the George Town office of The Indian Express, owned by Ramnath Goenka, was gutted by fire in 1940, Srinivasan lent The Hindu’s old home and old rotary to the Express, even as the fire raged. The Indian Express remained a tenant there until it moved into its own premises in 1948 after buying the old Madras Club building and campus. 100 Mount Road became progressively a monument to neglect till The Hindu, in a rush of insensitivity to heritage, pulled it down in 1996 to develop a high-rise building. The only fortuitous good that came of it was that “Kasturi Centre” now houses the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ); two of The Hindu’s directors are trustees of the Media Development Foundation, the independent public trust that runs the ACJ. Srinivasan was to display his generosity to competitors once again when, in October 1943, after rains had battered the city and left it flooded, he offered to print the newspaper of any publisher who had been affected by the power breakdown that had followed. During this crisis, The Hindu’s AC power supply alone was restored quickly, as it was from the main power station. It is worth noting that Srinivasan made this offer when his own newspaper was suffering from the consequences of the War: reduced to half its circulation and four pages on five days and six pages on two days. The Hindu celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in style — affirming its faith in democracy and “free discussion that is the life breath of democracy” and belief in its own educational role. It felt that, abroad, the masses were “educated enough to read greedily but not… seriously” — thus “swamping the discriminating few” — and felt this should not happen in India. “It is not by bludgeoning the reader’s mind,” the paper contended, “but by reasoning with it that the soundest and most lasting results can be achieved.” Stating that the pros and cons must be set out fairly and that it was incumbent on the Press “to maintain steadily this appeal to higher instincts,” The Hindu eschewed the option of becoming a ‘popular’ paper — “a tabloid”. It felt news should not be sensationalised but must be presented “in a well ordered manner… each item in its appointed place.” Although it spoke slightingly of “so called human interest stories and similar shop window devices,” the paper was not above offering extensive coverage of sport, especially cricket and horse racing and even had a correspondent writing regularly on fashion at the races. In the pre-television era, The Hindu set up a large scoreboard in the front of its office during Test matches. It once devoted columns of space over two months to a controversy that posed the question, “Did Sita, Rama’s consort, lie and if so was it pardonable?” Like its original role model, The Times, London, The Hindu did not believe in personalising news by such popular devices as by-lines and photographs of correspondents. There was a sensation when T.G. Narayanan got a by-line — and a picture too — for his war reports from the Imphal front in April 1944.

Reflecting the importance of views and opinion, The Hindu had Assistant Editors and sub-editors, but not a News Editor until the War years when C.R. Krishnaswami, Rajaji’s son, was put in charge of news operations in the modern sense. The paper, however, had got its first Chief Reporter in 1905 — R. Ganesa Aiyer, a Kasturi Ranga Iyengar appointment who remained in harness for 23 years. The attitude of these dedicated journalists was that the news must be presented as comprehensively and as unsensationally as possible and that all the facts at hand must be included — after checking and re-checking. Some of The Hindu’s most newsworthy achievements during this era came as much by good organisation as by chance. The newspaper carried news of the Japanese surrender when most of the country’s other morning dailies (including The Times of India) missed the story. This ‘exclusive’ for India was possible only because a stenographer was posted to monitor radio bulletins every night during the War. He had conscientiously tuned in to the BBC for a last check at 4.30 am before going home, when printing of the first edition was under way — and what he heard had The Hindu ahead of the rest. During a later era, in 1966, the paper scooped Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death, carrying the story in the same issue that carried news of the Tashkent Accord. In this instance, all the sub-editors had gone home but a teleprinter operator, who spotted the news, and a proofreader informed Kasturi. The Editor stopped press and had the ‘flash’ carried. Then there was the case of Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, the news breaking in India minutes after the first edition of The Hindu was airborne. The air fleet — a pioneering venture — was recalled and a new edition was hurriedly printed and airlifted to readers in far-flung parts of south India. Such splendid organisation, which could convert even a halfchance into an “exclusive”, coupled with rare business acumen that has been demonstrated in every generation of the Kasturi family — not usually found among press barons, leave alone journalists — is what has taken The Hindu from strength to strength, especially in the post-Independence years when it did not have the “nationalist” label any longer to help boost its sales. The circulation grew from 50,000 in 1955 to 100,000 in 1959 to nearly a million today. This growth is testimony to the organisational skills of Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s sons and their successors. The end of the Srinivasan era came in rather unhappy circumstances. Of Srinivasan it has been said — as was later said of G. Kasturi — that there was not a single detail in the organisation of a modern newspaper with which he was not familiar. Whether it was maintaining the traditions of the institution, news operations, editorial practices, dealing with officialdom, setting up of an index department, putting up a new building, ordering a new plant, responding to production crises, or opening an office in New York, Srinivasan familiarised himself with both the details and the issues involved and made informed, forward-looking decisions. It was remarkable with what unerring shrewdness and judgment he made major decisions involving outlays that were large for his time. For all his strictness, he was generous with his staff. When pages were drastically reduced during the War, he did not retrench staff. Instead, as prices rose, he became the first newspaper employer in the country to pay a cost of living allowance. He also opened a fair price grain shop as well as a staff canteen — additional measures to reduce the burden on a staff saddled with steep rises in the cost of living. Work, however, he expected to be turned out to his high standards. He continued to respect The Hindu tradition of not asking an editorial writer to write against his convictions, but anyone who erred editorially or was considered undisciplined was sternly dealt with. Dismissal in the old autocratic tradition was not unknown. It was against such a background that the paper’s first trade union, founded in 1957, launched the first strike in The Hindu’s history — on July 29, 1958. With the management taking an unrelenting stand and the strike turning militant, the situation got out of hand. On August 5, the paper closed its doors for the first time since it was launched. A week later, after Chief Minister Kamaraj’s intervention and a statement of regret from the striking workers, The Hindu was back in business with a weary comment on the consequences of labour organisations getting mixed up with political parties. The paper recovered its health fairly quickly but its great Editor, shattered by what had happened, his paternalism unable to absorb the shock of his men ‘turning on him’, went into a decline of health and spirits. In less than a year, he was dead — at the age of 72.

Into the Present: Developing a paper for a new reader

With the death of Kasturi Srinivasan who was very much in charge of everything at The Hindu, there was bound to be considerable change in style in the management of the organisation. Without that dominant personality around, there was likely to be a greater tendency to management by committee. A second blow to the family-run institution came in February 1961 with the untimely death of his elder son, the affable and popular S. Parthasarathy, who was in charge of the Sunday magazine and had also become Publisher of the newspaper in 1959. Kasturi Gopalan, Srinivasan’s younger brother, was Printer and Publisher of the newspaper for close to half a century. As long as The Hindu continued to do justice to his passion, sport, above all hockey, and the daily religious discourse he had introduced, he was content to let others guide the destiny of the organisation. But that was not to say he withdrew from the paper. One of the longest office attendance and punctuality records anywhere was his. From 1913 till his death in 1974, he arrived at the office every day right on the dot and spent several hours in it. He was convinced that an orthodox life was perfectly compatible with a modern and progressive outlook in a variety of ways. Duty and devotion to the National Press and the family was what he aimed to demonstrate with punctiliousness in the office and observance of rituals elsewhere. Gopalan’s elder son, G. Narasimhan, was General Manager of The Hindu from 1937 and succeeded Srinivasan as Managing Editor and Managing Director. A retiring man who did not seek the limelight, he was the ideal committee chairman, able to lead discussions and, with his fine logical mind, point out discrepancies, omissions and commissions. The courteous and patient Narasimhan proved popular. He was considered such a benevolent employer that it came as a surprise when The Hindu had its second and third major labour problems in 1967 and 1968, but when the situation returned to normal, there was the unruffled Narasimhan committing himself calmly to restoring the confidence of the employees. A clubbable man, he had a life-long passion for Carnatic music — bequeathing to the Music Academy in Madras a unique collection of tape recordings of all the outstanding musicians of his time — and a deep interest in sports such as horse racing, billiards and golf, which he played himself and quietly promoted. His death in 1977, when only 61, left behind a comparatively young family. His sons Ram and Ravi were in the Editorial Department and Murali was in management, becoming General Manager in 1977. With Narasimhan as Managing Editor, it was judged prudent to have an editor with long journalistic experience. So an older person, a cousin of Srinivasan, S. Parthasarathy, was named and Narasimhan’s brother, Kasturi, appointed Joint Editor. Parthasarathy — S.P. as he was called — was a self-effacing person, yet was more knowledgeable about men and matters of the time than anyone else in the paper. As Senior subeditor and, later, as the first recognised News Editor of the paper, he trained a couple of generations of journalists in The Hindu to respect accuracy and language. They, in turn, saw in him a sympathetic father figure to whom they could turn when in difficulty. He believed editorials should be notable not only for their language but also for their ability to see all sides of an issue. His advocacy of the people’s cause during Sir C.P. Ramaswami Aiyar’s dewanship in Travancore and his defence of India on the Kashmir issue were well appreciated throughout the country. Considered an expert on Pakistan, he would, at editorial conferences, forcefully argue Pakistan’s case and, then, with an array of facts and a display of incisive logic, demolish it and arrive at what he was going to say in his next editorial. He was the quintessential newspaperman who felt that if you were well informed and acquainted with varying points of view, you would be able to work out for yourself the just view. It was during S.P.’s stewardship that India first faced war crises that threatened the security of the country and generated throughout the nation a hysterical call to arms. But The Hindu presented cogently argued cases and stressed negotiation and reorganisation. Backing India’s position on the “inviolability” of the MacMahon line, the paper commented: “China must choose between friendship with India and mere acquisition of territory of which she has enough and more already.” In the wake of the Sino-Indian boundary conflict of October 1962, The Hindu editorialised that India had “done… [its] best to avoid a war” and could “negotiate only on honourable terms and not when our soil is being increasingly occupied by the Chinese.” When Prime Minister Nehru died in May 1964, The Hindu, which had begun to be disappointed in him, remembered him handsomely: “Child of the Indian Revolution… leadership came naturally to him and he proved himself a man of the masses almost from the time he plunged into the non-cooperation movement… It is given to few leaders to achieve in their lifetime all that they set out to accomplish in their youth. Jawaharlal must be deemed exceptionally fortunate in this respect because he did achieve a great many things in a life of crowded activity… He has a secure place in history as a great national leader who used his high prestige and influence among the nations in the cause of world peace and international understanding. His greatest achievement undoubtedly is the fact that despite the horrors of Partition and the surge of communal passions and linguistic loyalties he kept India united within a democratic secular framework and set her firmly on the road to economic development and modernisation.” The second war crisis came with Ayub Khan, the military dictator, leading Pakistan. When Ayub Khan declared war on India, The Hindu wondered whether it was “a gambler’s throw.” Looking at what India was faced with, The Hindu commented ruefully: “For us in India grave times are ahead. A truculent neighbour, encouraged by the arms it has received from the West and the arrogance born of newfound friendship with other enemies of peace has thrown a challenge which must be accepted calmly and courageously. It is a terrible experience for a peace-loving democratic people, engaged in the building up of their national economy and raising living standards to be called upon to divert their energies to military activity and to resist an unscrupulous and well-armed enemy.” The moderate tone that Kasturi Srinivasan had brought to The Hindu was being echoed by S.P. He was, in the commitment to reasoned argument, to be followed by G. Kasturi when he became Editor in September 1965. He had been working closely with his uncle and the various outstanding journalists who served the newspaper. A keen sportsman, who showed a flair for both tennis and cricket, he gave up these pursuits in singleminded dedication to the newspaper. Much of Kasturi’s time was spent on finding ways and means to reach The Hindu not only to the largest number of readers in the south but also to make it reach fur- her and give meaning to its claim of being a national newspaper. The Hindu has always been a pioneer in technology and has always paid close attention to management. Kasturi was the most technology- oriented of its editors ever. The technological innovations he helped introduce not only made the paper grow enormously but also showed the rest of the industry the way to technological improvement and modernisation. The Hindu’s first step towards reaching out to a larger readership had been taken by Srinivasan when his faith in the aeroplane had him using the world’s and India’s fledgling air services to transport The Hindu. Kasturi built on this and, in 1962, The Hindu became the first newspaper in India to charter a plane to deliver its newspapers — an Indian Airlines Dakota flew a Bangalore-Coimbatore- Madurai route and these cities and their hinterland got a morning edition. The next year, The Hindu made history when it bought four Herons. It became the first newspaper in the world operating its own fleet of aircraft to reach copies to readers over an extensive region. On September 29, 1963, the lowkey newspaper, on one of those rare occasions in its existence, patted itself on the back with a front page picture and a vivid description of the “unique event in the history of world journalism.” When The Hindu in 1964 augumented its fleet with Dakotas, it was able to distribute the paper by air to Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Trivandrum and Cochin. By the middle of 1965, the newspaper was able to stop its dak edition. This was made possible by a splendid Circulation Department exercise linking air, rail and road transport to ensure that the morning edition of The Hindu penetrated deeper into the southern States, reaching the target areas no later than noon on the day of publication. C.G.K. Reddy, the Business Manager, contributed considerably to the success of the planning and execution of this path-breaking exercise. No more were many of The Hindu’s readers 24 hours behind their city confreres. It was a bold and revolutionary step that no other paper in India had even attempted. It was innovative for the rest of the world too and The Hindu’s management stock rose sky high. The cost of supplying readers their daily newspaper using the newspaper’s own aircraft was, however, far too high. Weather conditions, especially the monsoons, made deliveries erratic at times. A better way of serving readers across south India had to be found. With technology making rapid strides in a world capitalising on wartime inventions, new means of transmission were being developed in the 1960s. The Hindu decided to replace its airfleet with new methods of inter-city transmission in the late 1960s. Kasturi, who spent much time on his trips abroad taking a look at developing newspaper technology, was in the forefront of taking The Hindu into the hi-tech age. The breakthrough answer was the facsimile mode of transmission. Kasturi says The Hindu has always been a “lucky institution”; someone or something always turns up when the organisation needs help most. When the paper decided to go in for facsimile transmission, there happened to become available just the man to help make the changeover possible. Mahadevan of the Post and Telegraphs Department, a master of technology who knew the theory of the subject but not the practice, was just retiring at the time. The Hindu recruited him. The facsimile transmission process The Hindu was looking at had never been used in India, but Mahadevan was well aware of the intricacies of the task ahead. Kasturi got down an American expert to work with him — and they began to train the necessary staff. The Hindu made newspaper history in India in July 1969 by printing a facsimile edition in Coimbatore to serve western Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Facsimile transmission to the newspaper’s printing centres in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Madurai was established in the next decade. All these presses were in time equipped with modern web offset units offering high quality colour printing, beginning with a press set up in Hyderabad in 1976. Once again, The Hindu was in the lead in printing technology — its colour offerings in the 1970s having their roots in 1940 when the paper became the first in the country to offer colour, even though it was only spot colour in advertisements. In 1983, The Hindu further equipped itself at headquarters with a new Japanese printing machine to meet the demand for high quality colour printing. This it replaced in 1997 with an even more sophisticated Japanese machine that was yet another pathbreaker in India. The Hindu today produces in all its 11 printing centres up to 24 pages in the main section as well as supplements, many of them with a strong local flavour. Over 110 pages are made up every day. While all this technological upgradation was going on under Kasturi’s stewardship, The Hindu took another major step. Aware that the paper was read daily in the circles of power in the country’s capital, but reached Delhi only in the afternoon, The Hindu decided to move out of the south for the first time and establish a national presence. To do this it took another pioneering step — linking up with an Indian communications satellite in September 1986 for facsimile transmission. The growth in The Hindu’s circulation since the new technologies were introduced 30 years ago has been striking. From around 1,50,000 at the time, it has grown to nearly a million today.

A significant feature of this technological advancement has been the painless way it was done. A clear and transparent assurance was given to the Union on this point and there has not been any retrenchment of employees at any time during the phases of technological modernisation. The consequence of this has been that not once has technology been the cause of any disagreement during talks with representatives of the workforce. The content of The Hindu, its comprehensiveness, its reasoned comment and its commitment to technology and management in an India where these were still new made The Times, London, choose it as one of the world’s ten best newspapers in 1965. Discussing each of its choices in separate articles, The Times wrote: “The Hindu takes the general seriousness to lengths of severity… The Hindu, which is published in Madras, is the only newspaper which in spite of being published only in a provincial capital is regularly and attentively read in Delhi. It is read not only as a distant and authoritative voice on national affairs but as an expression of the most liberal — and least provincial — southern attitudes… Its Delhi Bureau gives it outstanding political and economic dispatches and it carries regular and frequent reports from all State capitals, so giving more news from States, other than its own, than most newspapers in India… It might fairly be described as a national voice with a southern accent. The Hindu can claim to be the most respected paper in India.” In 1968, the American Newspaper Publishers’ Association chose The Hindu for its World Press Achievement Award. The citation reads in part: “Throughout nearly a century of its publication The Hindu has exerted wide influence not only in Madras but throughout India. Conservative in both tone and appearance, it has wide appeal to the English-speaking segment of the population and wide readership among government officials and business leaders… The Hindu has provided its readers a broad and balanced news coverage, enterprising reporting and a sober and thoughtful comment…[ It] has provided its country a model of journalistic excellence… [It] has fought for a greater measure of humanity for India and its people… [and] has not confined itself to a narrow chauvinism. Its correspondents stationed in the major capitals of the world furnish The Hindu world-wide news coverage… For its championing of reason over emotion, for its dedication to principle even in the face of criticism and popular disapproval, for its confidence in the future, it has earned the respect of its community, its country, and the world.” Indeed, management, the careful harbouring of income and resources and putting them to the best use, as much as the commitment to new technology have been The Hindu’s strong points from Veeraraghavachariar’s day. Management, however, was called on to do more during the Gopalan-Narasimhan- Kasturi era when The Hindu was affected by its second and third strikes in 1967 and 1968. In the first instance, the paper closed down for a month — and matters were settled only through the good offices of the first DMK Chief Minister, C.N. Annadurai. Then, less than a year later, the paper had to stop publication for 72 days from August 20 to November 1, 1968. Readers regretted the absence of the paper. One of the many letters of loyalty read: “The Hindu is not a good newspaper but a bad habit… Many try but are not able to give up smoking. It is about the same with your esteemed daily. For my part I have successfully given up smoking.” After weathering the strikes, The Hindu made its position clear on labour-management relations in newspaper offices: “A newspaper is different from other industrial undertakings in the sense that when it ceases operations the general public stands to lose as much, perhaps even more, as its own management and staff.” One result of the strikes was the closing of that popular weekly Sport and Pastime — though the more colourful The Sportstar was to emerge in the fiscally better times of 1978. The Weekly Review, which was also closed in the aftermath of the strike returned in a new fortnightly avatar, Frontline in late 1984, a dialectician’s delight. The Hindu’s ambivalent attitude to the Congress, which it described as being an “independent and objective view”, was put to the test when the country’s first internal Emergency was declared on June 26, 1975. An editorial commenting on the proclamation of Emergency, to the effect “we hope it is temporary,” was scrapped when the paper learnt that censorship had been imposed. It might have tested the waters with the publication of that editorial “but we just did not know what was going to happen and my brother and I decided to wait and see what would happen,” explains Kasturi, speaking of the paper’s lack of opposition to and indeed support for the Emergency. The paper adopted a wait-and-see policy, which was to last till January 1977 when the Emergency was withdrawn, and The Hindu noted editorially that Mrs. Gandhi had been “demagogic” and hers had been “an authoritarian and repressive regime.” The 18 months of the Emergency were not The Hindu’s happiest hour. Not once during that period did it oppose the Emergency or even its prolongation. It welcomed the ‘discipline’, even though it may be by punitive threat, in educational institutions, factories and government offices. It applauded the drive against smugglers and the corrupt and was appreciative of greater productivity in industry, with labour having been made “responsible”. Of these matters, The Hindu wrote: “All round official corruption seems to have flourished under an umbrella of permissiveness. The public will expect that the present drive to improve discipline and efficiency in public offices will be followed or rather accompanied by all-out action to root out corruption too, for they are often interlinked.” The Hindu at that repressive time was forceful only on such matters as the population policy, urban land ceiling and economic planning. Welcoming the hard line taken by a couple of States, The Hindu felt that the Centre too should adopt a population policy that would be more a carrot-and-stick one. Firm in its belief that the population explosion should be tackled on a war footing, the paper wrote several times urging a more coercive family planning policy. While The Hindu was urging legislative coercion as an essential part of the country’s family planning policy, the route to more effective family planning was taking another, more frightening, route in the Hindi belt. The newspaper was to confess later that it was “ignorant” of the “gross excesses” of the family planning drive in the Hindispeaking States “and other repression.” The let sleeping dogs lie policy of The Hindu during the Emergency can be attributed to prudence, a considered decision to protect the interests of “the only institution we have.” While looking back, it is evident while its editorial comments on family planning would not be ones The Hindu would wish to make today, its attitude to a couple of Press Ordinances and to Land Ceiling was oppositional, if softly so. With the Emergency over, The Hindu reverted to a period of quiet. Its well-reasoned opinion was read by many who mattered throughout the country, even if action on these opinions was less than forthcoming. On the other hand, for a larger readership, The Hindu offered a growing amount of political news from its own correspondents from all parts of the country, more news from abroad than most papers in the country, excellent sports coverage of major national teams — though sports such as football and volleyball received inadequate coverage — and a host of serious features on education, medicine, science, technology and agriculture. There was also space for the airing of views of experts as well as lay readers on a variety of subjects in such special pages as ‘Outlook’, ‘Special Report’ and ‘Open Page’, introduced in 1977. It was during this period of quiet seriousness that The Hindu found itself suddenly playing an uncharacteristically activist role on two occasions. In 1983, the ethnic explosion in neighbouring Sri Lanka had the paper suddenly wake up to a situation brewing in the island from 1945, sizzling in 1956 and simmering till the pressure build-up led to the explosion. In the half decade that followed 1983, N. Ram, the paper’s Associate Editor, sympathised with the Tamil militants as well as the moderate Tamil United Liberated Front. The newspaper’s reports as well as editorials made this clear. The Tigers’ turning on the Indian Peace Keeping Force, the heavy casualties suffered by the Indian soldiers in the North and East of Sri Lanka, the withdrawal of the IPKF from the island in early 1990 and the Tigers’ policy of assassinating any leaders opposed to it, resulting in Rajiv Gandhi’s calamitous death in a suicide bomb blast near Madras in 1991, all made not only Ram, but also The Hindu take a strong anti-LTTE line. In this sense, the newspaper mirrored official India’s policy course and turns.

Long before this disillusionment with the Tigers, Ram found himself leading The Hindu into an investigation of an even more sensational story. The Bofors scandal broke quietly enough in April 1987 with Swedish Radio alleging that bribes had been paid to top Indian political leaders, officials and Army officers in return for the Swedish arms manufacturing company winning a hefty contract with the Government of India for the purchase of 155mm howitzers. The Hindu commented in June 1987 that Bofors was “a very serious business” and said: “The Prime Minister, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, has promised Parliament and the nation that nobody in India, however highly placed, would be able to get away with wrong doing if it was established in the Bofors-India deal… The time to initiate serious investigative and possibly criminal action is right now.” A few weeks later, the paper thundered: “Virtually every schoolboy and schoolgirl knows, or should know, that presently this nation is going through a crisis of leadership — with a Prime Minister apparently trapped in deep political trouble despite the not-verylong- lasting euphoria of a runaway triumph in the Presidential election. Over the past eight months or more, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi has made major blunder upon major blunder, stepping up the pace disastrously as the going has got worse… for his party and Government… Serious corruption charges hang over the present and future of the Government like a Damocles’ sword.” With the Government still not doing anything to clear the air four months after the scandal broke, The Hindu charged the Rajiv Gandhi Government with an “oldfashioned cover-up after hands have been trapped in the till.” The Hindu was beginning to sound like it did in its first 50 years. In early 1988, through its part-time correspondent in Switzerland, Chitra Subramaniam, it began to receive a series of document-backed exclusives on the murky financial transactions involved in the Bofors affair. With Ram joining her in an aggressive investigation, The Hindu kept filling columns — at times, pages — with documents and articles that set the terms of the national political discourse on this subject. During a six-month period, the newspaper published scores of copies of original papers that documented the secret payments, amounting to some $50 million, into Swiss bank accounts, the agreements behind the payments, communications relating to the payments and the crisis response, and other material. L’affaire Bofors caused not only a political storm in the country, contributing to a regime change in the 1989 general elections, but also a storm within the house of The Hindu. Many of the details of the internal controversy have become public property. In 1991, it was learnt that Kasturi had stepped down as Editor and Ram’s younger brother, N. Ravi, Deputy Editor with the paper, was taking over as Editor. Months later, Ram was appointed Editor of Frontline and The Sportstar. Malini Parthasarathy, Kasturi Srinivasan’s grand-daughter, became Executive Editor of The Hindu and her sister, Nirmala Lakshman, Joint Editor. Venugopal, Kasturi’s younger son, was appointed Executive Editor of Business Line (with Ram as Editor), when it started on January 28, 1994. Under his stewardship, the business daily has made steady and impressive progress and acquired a reputation for comprehensive, insightful and ethical coverage of business affairs. S. Rangarajan, who had become Publisher and Printer of the newspaper after the death of Kasturi Gopalan in 1974, succeeded Kasturi as Managing Director of Kasturi & Sons Ltd, the public limited company that publishes The Hindu group of publications. The business side of the newspaper was now in the hands of a strong team comprising N. Murali, who was appointed Joint Managing Director, Ramesh Rangarajan, in charge of advertising, and a cadre of management professionals. Happily, K. Balaji, Kasturi’s elder son, who was for some years a consultant, returned in 2000 to the family company as a full-time Director in charge of production. The newspaper made a considerable investment in new technology and systems. There were also workplace changes, transforming the interior of the sprawling offices. Dr. Nalini Krishnan, Kasturi Srinivasan’s granddaughter, took the initiative in developing the company’s Welfare Centre, which offers healthcare services free of charge to the employees and their families. The work of the Centre, including its programmes in the areas of disease prevention and health education and awareness, has been widely commended in the industry and beyond. Today, The Hindu group of publications employs nearly 3,200 people, half of whom work at headquarters. The employees have adapted to waves of technological modernisation and acquired specialised skills demanded by a modern newspaper. Their loyalty and commitment to The Hindu will be “a priceless asset” to any institution anywhere in the world, according to Murali, Joint Managing Director. He adds that “industrial relations are harmonious with the Union cooperating fully with the management in all its endeavours.” Reflecting on the differences within the family-run institution, which have prompted commentators on occasion to refer to “the Hindu divided family,” Kasturi explains: “There have always been differences of opinion in the family and, from time to time, there have even been threats to break up. But restraint has always been exercised and the problems have been solved with the interests of the institution uppermost in mind.” As the 1990s began, the Bofors excitement behind it, The Hindu became a quieter paper. Between 1990 and 2002, facsimile editions were started in five other centres in the south, giving The Hindu printing facilities in all four southern States. In the second half of the decade, the newspaper took a strong stand against the policies of the governments in power — at the Centre as well as in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK Government responded by filing as many as 16 defamation cases against the newspaper in 2002-2003. The Hindu began to take on a more local hue, something it was rich in up to the 1950s. But with increasing economic liberalisation, the middle class affluence that followed, the influence of television on interests and tastes, and a greater demand from the cash-rich young and middle-aged to be kept in touch with locally, the perception of what a newspaper was had to change. And change it did — with considerably more local news, some of which may be seen by old-timers as promotional. The Hindu also made a conscious effort to appeal to the young. MetroPlus, a city-focussed supplement was introduced in 1999. Downtown and several other supplements enlarged the local focus, reaching out to the smaller advertisers in the different regions and even in sections of the city, and there was a greater attempt to reach out to new readers. There was recruitment of a young and cosmopolitan staff, mainly women from the leading city colleges. This gave The Hindu, which till the 1970s was all-male and till this influx welcoming only the rare woman journalist, a completely new look. There was an expansion of the newspaper’s editions and printing centres and the newspaper’s circulation virtually doubled over the decade. With the growth of advertising revenues, it had become possible to raise the page level to over 20. There was also diversification of coverage. It is only fair to add that during this period, strident and more frequent complaints began to be heard from readers about the objectivity and factuality of the newspaper’s news coverage. Meanwhile, unknown to the world outside, the sentiment for change and redirection and restructuring of editorial operations was growing at the top levels of the organisation. On June 27, 2003, the Board of Directors of the company made a decision that was every bit as dramatic as the developments witnessed 14 years earlier. Noting “the need for improved structures and mechanisms in order to uphold and strengthen quality and objective journalism in respect of both opinion and news reports, and continually to achieve higher standards of journalistic performance,” the Board appointed Ram Editor-in-Chief of The Hindu, as well as the other publications of the group. He was placed in charge of the editorial department, including its day-to-day operations. Venugopal was entrusted with new responsibilities for the flagship daily in addition to his work in Business Line.

The weeks following this development have witnessed major changes in the editorial structure and operations of The Hindu. Long-tested institutions and practices such as the daily editorial conference, which had been discontinued in the decade of the 1990s, and cross-section news conferences were revived. ‘Walls’ separating editorial departments and functions have been brought down, with a new effort to make the best use of the common journalistic resources of the group. Regular meetings, interactions, and consultations have been instituted between the people in charge of editorial and marketing functions at various levels. A team of senior editors has been constituted at headquarters to coordinate the regional pages and the work of the various news bureaus. There has been an attempt to give a new and brighter look to the front page with the daily use of larger size colour photographs, and a reorientation of the editorial page towards greater newsiness, topicality and timely comment on a variety of subjects. On August 27, exactly two months after the change, a 2,800-word editorial was published by way of providing an explanation to the readers. The leader set out a framework as well as a set of five principles for the kind of journalism The Hindu stood for — and strongly re-committed itself to. It is a cardinal rule in history that the closer the historian is to the event, the less reliable and surefooted is his or her account. We are too close to the recent changes in The Hindu and can safely put off judgment to the future.

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