Is this the way to treat a Legend?


""Before I begin let me admit, honestly, that I am a great admirer and ardent supporter of Madhav Vithal Kamath, better known M V Kamath. He has a very distinct place in my heart. He is among the key inspiration for me to leave the management and enter journalism. Apart from this he made several unparalleled contributions not just to Media but also to the nation at large for which was rightly decorated with Padma Bhushan. At 86 he is more than distinguished and accomplished gentleman living quietly in his small two bedroom accommodation, provided to him by Manipal University, with content. Given this, in the first case, he never wanted to be the Chairman of a Government body like Prasar Bharati with his background of sixty five years as India’s premier journalist, of international repute.

But on a persistent pressure from Sri. L K Advani in 2002 end, he agreed, though reluctantly. It was pursued by Sushma Swaraj and later on January 9, 2003, Sri. Bhairon Singh Shekhawat made him accept it as Chairman of the selection committee. He has been, there on, suffering constantly at the hands of his Bureaucrat CEO’s of IAS. Time and again he has asserted continuously that ‘Media Chief’s job is not the IAS men’s cup of tea’, but Government in its own political interest has insisted on thrusting IAS men as media chiefs in Prasar Bharati as well as, its constituent, Doordarshan and All India Radio.

When it took charge, the Congress-led UPA government didn’t oust NDA-appointee M V Kamath from the Prasar Bharati Board even when, as per Kamath, he offered to resign without passing of ordinance to ease the trouble for them. But now, while there is hardly a year to go for his term to end effective, which is on January 9, 2009, he is being mischievously removed by amending the law as present act does not permit such removal of a duly selected Chairman and he does not suffer from any of the disqualifications mentioned in the act. What I don’t understand is: what was the need, especially when he himself was willing to resign? Isn’t it an act of humiliation for a person who has led such a long, six decades to be precise, years as a journalist respected by millions, not just in India but also abroad? Of course it is.

On hearing this news which reached me last night, i.e. 13th of February 2007, I was rather stunned. I rang up all my journalist friends across newspapers, magazine and television media, but to my utter surprise none of them were sure. It took me 5 hours of incessant telephoning to find out the truth. First thing I did on confirming is to call up Kamath. On having my call after a long gap of over six months he was just in the same – steady – mood. ‘Yes you can come and see me at 2:00 pm tomorrow’ he said. 

‘I had myself offered them to resign should they find it worthwhile. I had met Jaipal Reddy with my resignation letter when UPA formed its government. But he was reluctant to accept my resignation and I, as a matter of respect for the minister, agreed.’ Said Kamath, further adding ‘There is no need to fight for it Mahesh, I am feeling more relaxed, now that I am in the place from where I began my over 60 year long journey in the world of journalism. There is no need to make an issue as you feel to be interested in.’

Yes I do agree with him. It wasn’t worth his time and attention in the first instance. But all that I want to understand from our current UPA Chairperson and the Minister for Broadcasting is: what need for ordinance was? Is this the way to treat a distinguished person?

Kamath, let me assert again, is not any ordinary person, as he himself acts at times. He has been Editor of more than two distinguished publication in the country. He is among those very few Indians to make mark at the International level. He is the only living journalist to have seen the historical events starting from the assassination of Mahatma until Godse trial, from the making to the breaking of Berlin Wall and from the height of the Soviet-American stand off until the fall of USSR. He is a Legend! And he will be one for years to come with, also for having authored more than 40 books on various important subjects. It shall not be wrong to say that his life is a ‘National Heritage’ and trying to humiliate such person is a sign of lunacy. I simply wish all my Congress and UPA friends would be reading and realizing this.

[The author is Editor-in-Chief of Aseemaa: Journal for National Resurgence]

Author: U. Mahesh Prabhu- Mangalore