Skip to main content

The book that disappeared: Readers have right to know what transpired between YB Chavan and journalists

YB Chavan with Indira Gandhi
By Prabhakar Kulkarni*
Editors and journalists in the electronic and print media in India are enjoying press freedom. But this freedom is without any special provision in any law or the Indian Constitution. Individual freedom of expression is being used by editors and journalists and media organizations.
But is this freedom used to suppress the truth? Can a book once published be dumped and made not available to readers who have right to know the truth?
A Marathi book ‘Patra Samvad’ which was published but later disappeared and no copy is now available. The book relates to letters received by ex-Union defense minister and India’s deputy prime minister late YB Chavan.
The letters were selected by veteran editor and history researcher SM Garge of Pune; ex-civil servant Ram Pradhan (ex-Governor of Arunachal Pradesh) was the executive editor.The book was published by the Yeshawantrao Chavan Pratishtan, formed in memory of the veteran national leader.
The letters seem to be examples as to how editors or journalists woo political heavyweights for gaining some benefits or recommending favours for material facilities.
More than a thousand copies with price of Rs 450 per book was known to be published, but it being a sort of exposure of editors’ or journalists’ slavish leanings to those in power, the copies were almost dumped as they were not available.
When asked about the suppression, the book’s executive editor Pradhan said on phone: “Selection of letters written by journalists and editors to Yeshawantrao Chavan was made by SM Garge, who was the editor. There was understanding between Garge and me that I should not interfere in the selection of the letters.”
"Patra Samvad"
“Accordingly the book was published and copies were handed over to the YB Chavan Pratishtan. Later, the Pratishtan said that all copies are disposed of, and in what way they are disposed of, I do not know. A copy for reference may be available in “Virangula’ a bungalow of late Chavan at Karad where a library is maintained.”
Veteran leader and NCP chief Sharad Pawar is chief of the Pratishtan. While he was not available for comment, Sharad Kale, the Pratishtan’s secretary said that the book was not released.
In the national library maintained by the Pratishtan in Mumbai, there is a list of 66 books published by it but “Patra Samvad” is conspicuous by absence. When contacted, Priyanka Patil at ‘Virangula’ – at Chavan’s bungalow at Karad in Satara district in Maharashtra, where the library is maintained – said that one copy of the book is kept for reference, as also about 80,000 letters written by various individuals and institutions.
While all, except one, copies of the book seem to be disposed of, veteran ex-editor of Marathi daily “Sakal”, Eknath Bagul had a copy presented to him by SM Garge. When asked as to why the book was presented to him only, he said, late Garge was very close to him and he had nominated him as chief of Garge’s Trust which is publishing series of ‘Samaj Vidnan Kosh’ (Treatise on Social Sciences).
According to Bagul, he has boldly written a book (“Sampadkanchya Khurchivar” (On Editors’ Chair), published by Utkarsh Prakashan, Pune, on the subject, exposing most of the suppressed letters which have pointed out the way editors or journalists are more prone to woo with leniency for some expectations, while otherwise they boast of their own freedom, with which they harshly criticize against those who do not conform to their committed editorial policy.
Such instances are indicative as to how press freedom is being either misused or used with false notion, that it is editors’ freedom. In one letter an editor requests Chavan for favour of deputing his assistant to world tour, while other one leniently requests for permission or an order allowing him to write biography of Indira Gandhi. Obviously, as prime minister-aspirant Chavan did not reply; the biography was not written.
There are other letters indicating the committed relations. Knowing this as a sort of human trend, political rulers are prone to curb the freedom guaranteed under the constitution and periodical opinion to curb such freedom is expressed. Corporate ownership has also been a target because the influential print and electronic media are under the control of the corporate owners.
They are disseminating news and views which are influencing public in general and voters in particular. The government in power needs public views in its favour, and media may not always respond to this expectation. But media needs to be cautious enough to be aloof from the political heavyweights to maintain and protect the freedom without providing any laxity or exposure of their freedom.
---
*Senior journalist based at Kolhapur in Maharashtra

Comments

TRENDING

#MeToo moment in Hyderabad Urdu varsity? Two girl students seek action against authorities

Counterview Desk
Has the #MeToo movement reached Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MAANU)? It would seem so if a recent letter by newly-appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed to MAANU vice-chancellor Dr Aslam Parvaiz is any indication. Seeking reinstatement of two girl victims of “sexual harassment and humiliation”, the letter specifically names head of the department of the Media Centre for Journalism, suspecting, the problem could be much deeper.
Text of the letter: It is a matter of utmost perturbation for me to receive the two representations from the girls studying in the MCJ (Media Center for Journalism) regarding their sexual and subsequently, mental and social harassment at the hands of Prof Ehtesham Ahmad Khan, the HOD, MCJ.
We do not know, how many girls have been exploited by him and preferred to be silent for saving their family’s honour; however, there are two brave girls who stood to the depraved advances and misuse by Prof Ehtesham and came up with written complai…

Gujarat BJP MLAs, youth leader "incited" attack on North Indians: Cong releases video

Counterview Desk
Senior Gujarat Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil, currently in charge of Bihar and national spokesperson, All-India Congress Committee, has sent a legal notice to chief minister Vijay Rupani threatening criminal case and civil defamation suit for accusing him with "baseless statement" that he was responsible for attacks on north Indians in Gujarat.

"Ineligible" funding of Sardar Statue in Gujarat: CAG tells Central PSUs, it's not a heritage CSR activity

By Our Representative
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, in its recent report on Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE), has qualified public sector undertakings’ (PSUs') funding the 182-metre world’s highest Sardar Statue, currently being constructed in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar dam as an “ineligible” corporate social responsibility (CSR) activity.

29th "NRC-related" suicide in Assam, as Nirod Baran Das takes his life by hanging on a fan

By Our Representative
Reporting 29th case of National Register of Citizens (NRC)-driven suicide in Assam, one of India’s human rights campaign sites has said that, on October 20, tragedy struck Kharupetia town in Darrang district of Assam, when a retired school teacher and advocate Nirod Baran Das “took his life by hanging himself to a fan in his home.” The report adds, “The NRC process has so far claimed over two dozen such lives in the past four months alone.”

"Highly irregular" for PSUs to fund Sardar Statue under Corporate Social Responsibility

Counterview Desk
In a letter to I Srinivas, secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India, former secretary (economic affairs), Ministry of Finance, EAS Sarma, has raised questions on the funding of the Sardar Patel statue in South Gujarat by Central Public Sector Undertaking (CPSUs) relying on the Comptroller and Auditor General report (No 18/2018).

Post-MJ Akbar resignation: #MeToo movement and fears of backlash

By Sheshu Babu*
For the last few days, #MeToo movement has picked up momentum and many women are coming out with horrific tales of severe harassment in their past lives. They are not afraid anymore to expose famous persons including those at ministerial levels. As a senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhury opined (“An exit, a beginning”, October 18, 2018, indianexpress.com), "The #MeToo revelations are like the eruption of a volcano which was imminent, given the journey working women have covered. It was not easy to make public what they had gone through,and take on powerful men.”

Bank account frozen, raid on Amnesty office: Govt of India "treating" human rights NGOs like criminal enterprises

By Abhirr VP*
Amnesty India’s bank accounts have been frozen by the Enforcement Directorate, effectively stopping its work. Amnesty India is thus the latest target of the government’s assault on civil society in the country. The accounts of Greenpeace India were frozen earlier this month.

J&K Governor's rule: BJP's "failure" to go ahead with 44-plus strategy

By Syed Mujtaba Hussian*
Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) continues to witness cataclysm of events ever since the killing of editor-in-chief of “Rising Kashmir”, Shujaat Bukhari, followed by the BJP’s deliberated parting of ways with its coalition partner, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and imposition of Governor rule.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

NTPC's "poor" track record on workers' safety, whether permanent or on contract

Counterview Desk
A recent report, “The Dark Side of NTPC: A Critical Look at the Social and Environmental Footprints of NTPC”, traces the performance of one of the four Navaratnas which also happens to be a Fortune 500 company, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), pointing out that, while it has played, for over four decades, “pivotal role” in India’s quest for development, this development was energy intensive and has caused “a plethora of negative impacts to people, environment and sustainability over the years.”