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

Women innovators on simple, revolutionary alternate solutions for water problems

By Proshakha Maitra, Mansee Bal Bhargava* The detrimental effects of uncontrolled population rise and accelerated change in the global climate have posed tremendous pressure on the water and sanitation. This calls all stakeholders, from both developed and developing nations, to improve their resilience and to instigate sustainability. It is more crucial than ever to optimise the use of the resources we have on hand since the world population is projected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050.

IMA vs Ramdev: Why what's good or bad for goose should be good or bad for gander

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD* Baba Ramdev and his associate Balkrishna faced the wrath of the Supreme Court for their propaganda about their Ayurvedic products and belittling mainstream medicine. Baba Ramdev had to apologize in court. His apology was not accepted and he may face the contempt of court with harsher punishment. The Supreme Court acted on a public interest litigation (PIL) moved by the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Alleged killing of another Bangladesh youth inside Indian territory: NHRC inquiry sought

By Kirity Roy* There was yet another incident of the killing of a Bangladeshi youth by the Border Security Force personnel attached with ‘Barthar’ BOP of ‘G’ Company of 75 BSF Battalion. In last five years several incidents of killings happened under this police station’s jurisdiction and the cases will get the award as “Not Guilty” as usual.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Modi model, Hindutva icon 'justified' alliance with Muslim League before Independence

By Shamsul Islam*  Our PM describes himself as ‘Hindu’ nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, MS Golwalkar (the other being VD Savarkar) and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Crusader for people’s causes, this Hollywood actor entered 'unexplored zones' in US

By Harsh Thakor*  Marlon Brando on April 3rd completes his birth centenary. He perished in 2004, on July 1, aged 80 years. Arguably in Hollywood Brando penetrated sensitivity and versatility at an unparalleled scale and discovered new horizons or explored path breaking zones in acting.

Nuclear power expansion: Is AEC's new, 'unrealistic' target fully backed by PMO?

By Shankar Sharma*  Another unrealistic and tall claim by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) has been announced: India is eyeing 100 GW nuclear power by 2047, the AEC chairman  AK Mohanty   has said. A few years ago, the dream target for the Indian nuclear establishment was 275,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2050 (as per DAE document of 2008 "A Strategy for the Growth of Electricity in India”). Now this target of 100 GW nuclear power by 2047. And as at the end of February 2024, the actual nuclear power capacity was only 7,480 MWe, which formed only 1.7% of the total power capacity in the country. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Indians witnessing 'regression to Hindutva politics' under Modi ahead of elections

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The forthcoming general election in India, scheduled from April 19, 2024, to June 1, 2024, to elect the 543 members of the 18th Lok Sabha and the new Government of India, carries immense significance for the preservation of India's identity as a liberal, secular, and constitutional democracy.