From Technoscience
Revision as of 11:09, 3 November 2017 by Bhanugs (talk | contribs) (Created page with "<div style="text-align:center;"><span style="color:#262626;">'''INTERVIEW </span>WITH <span style="background-color:#ffffff;">ACHIN VANAIK '''</span></div> <u>'''INTERVIEWEE'...")
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

INTERVIEWEE* Name: Achin Vanaik [AV]

  • Occupation: Journalist
  • Third person: Pamel Phillipose [PP]

INTERVIEWER* Kai Friese [Kai]

Medium: Audio recordings* Format/ Type of File: Wav

  • Language: English with smatterings of Hindi
  • Location of Interview: Residence, Panchsheel Park
  • Date of the interview: 22 January 2016

Clip name/DURATION: * Name:

(1): kf_avanayak_raw_220116_1.WAV

Length  00: 51:43

Bit Rate  1411

Size  522 MB

Date modified 22 January 2016 11:09:36

0:01 [PP]: Are you serious? (laughter)

0:05 [KAI] : Interview with Achin Vanaik on the 22 January 2016 at his home in Panchsheel Park. Achin if you could maybe start by hmmm talking about where you were in ‘75 when the Emergency was declared and then how you got into journalism and...

0:30 [AV] :Uhmm what happened was that ...the story really starts in England. I'd been there for thirteen years from 1964 uhmm but 1978 but aa I ...in 1975, I was part of a group in London that was called the Asian Socialist Forum which comprised people from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan and India, and we were basically an activist group that was focused in two areas.

1:00 [Kai] : You were at the University or 

1:02 [AV] : Well I'd finished my university in 1970 Bristol. I did a degree in Economics and Statistics, then to, then got after that…London I went to Sweden and came back and worked for three years in a casino. And I was dealing three games as a croupier… black jack, American Roulette and a variation of James Bond's Baccarat called Punto Banco. Then I became converted to a inspector...there. So that was working at nights and I was active during the day. And in 1975 there was a lot of tensions in different parts of South Asia- in Pakistan, you had tension, you had an attempted three coups in 1974, which I think Larry Lifschultz had written about in 1974...in Bangladesh and you had in Sri Lanka you had the repression of JVP, and in India, of course, you had the Emergency. And we were focused on two areas of work. We were focused around anti-racist work in Britain and South Asian solidarity work. So far as the Indian Emergence took place, we set-up a post called there - The Campaign for the Release of Indian Political Prisoners. Our concern was the, while there was the, I mean the RSS had been imprisoned, I mean given kind of cover and then you had the Socialists who were very active against it and you also had the Maoists, who were also in this. So we had set up this campaign for the release of Indian political prisoners. And we would go around raising money to give solidarity. And I was also close to ....as the name indicates - a radical group and as part of it we decided that I and somebody else, and in fact he now is a very significant lawyer, very prominent lawyer ... should I give his name?

2:59  [PP] : Why not...why not...just give his name.

3:01[AV] : Anand Grover, who...we both came...he came then I came .. once later… after the declaration of Emergency. He came in around September-November- October

3:14 [Kai] : Came Back to India, you mean?

3:15 [AV] : Came...Came consciously to work underground

3:18 [Kai] : Okay but can you tell me first what were your contacts like with India...was it through family or was there...or was there...what kind of communication was there with groups back here

3:26 [AV] : Well...actually there wasn't ...we were supposed to explore the possibilities…we had one or two contacts of people who were part of the Left tradition here. The Left tradition to which I and Anand Lito was...perhaps I shouldn't mention.

3:43 [PP] :Yeah Yeah ... just leave that...

3:43 [AV] : But belonged to a tradition that had existed in India, which has faded now, which was Anti-Stalinist non- Maoist tradition. It was connected in many ways to the Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Sri Lanka. What happened is that, as you know, in the Indian context, historically the Left movement in India opposed the Quit India Movement in India because it's identification with with Russia. In Sri Lanka what happened was because many of them had ...some of the leaders of Lanka Sama Samaj Party had gone to Britain and they had become familiar with the critique of Stalinism from the Left ...from the 4:27  Trotskyist tradition (CHECK), if you like so what they did is that when they quit India, they continued to struggle against the British in Sri Lanka, and they got imprisoned in that period, and what they did was that they were able to convert their jailer and fled with their jailer to India, and they set-up a larger group which actually included a number of people who subsequently became Labour organisers for the Socialist Party...George Fernandes, so there was some contact with that earlier tradition as well. So basically we came down...sound more traumatic than it actually was.....???? working underground and ...1975 to 1977 doing various things. One of the most significant things that we were able to do was make contact with the Socialist Part ... with Leila Fernandes ... George Fernandes had been captured and this thing here. So we then were able to arrange through our contact both internationally and there for her to have an international tour to talk about what was happening in India, i.e., in the context with Cripps plus other things ??? actively involved...various things...so I won't get into that.  I mean there are various other things and all that. Then after the Emergency I went back to just basically raise some money and then to come back because the '75 thing had been financed by efforts of many of us...and that in itself is an amusing story but leave that aside. So  in 1978 I came back for good in round about  April 1978...for good and I was looking for a job. And I only had a BSc. I actually done...I'd started an evening Master's course in Birkbeck College while I was doing work in the casino but then I'd left that to come during the Emergency. So I only had a BSc Honours degree in Economics and Statistics. And the relationship between the universities in of England...Britain and India was that [phone ringing causes disruption] was that in Britain they do A-Levels and then there are three years...so more or less equivalent at that time to a Master's degree here but the Indian Government only recognised Oxford, Cambridge, London, Manchester and few others. They did not recognise my University which was Bristol University as having equivalent to a Masters. 6:58 So the only job that I could get was teaching in the 10th-12th in Bombay colleges...so I was looking for a job that way. And in the meantime I was writing articles which were getting published in the Mainstream. I first published for Mainstream and then Nikhil Chakarvarty recommend...had contacted Girilal Jain and said, "You should write...why don't you write for Times of India?" So I used to write for Time of India, and I was writing for Business India and various places.

---On AV’s background around 1975.

---Av gives his background of involvement in groups and other political activities since 1964. Part of Asian Socialist Forum in 1975.

--Finished a degree from University of Bristol in1970.

---Went to Sweden ---returned to London to work in the casino as croupier at night and activist during the day.

---Larry Lifschultz

---Kind of work covered by AV anti-racist work in Britain and South Asian solidarity work AND when Emergency was declared set-up The Campaign for the Release of Indian Political Prisoners.

---fund raising.

--Anand Grover returned to India to work underground.

--On AV’s contacts in India.

---AV didn’t have many except for one or two from the Left.

---Comrades from Anti-Stalinist non- Maoist tradition which is no longer present --- connected with Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Sri Lanka.

--Left opposed to Quit India Movement due to connection with Russia.

--On Left’s struggle against the British in South-Asia.

--On Left’s activities.

---George Fernanades

---Activities during 1975-77 connection with George Fernandes and Leila Fernandes.

---Arranging an international tour for Leila Fernandes about affiars in India.

---AV went back to London after Emergency and returned to India in 1978 for good.

---About discrepancies in degree recognition of foreign universities in India.

--The Universities recognised by the Indian Government - AV had limited job openings---taught in 10th-12th in Bombay Colleges, while writing articles for Mainstream.

--recommendation from Nikhil Chakarvarty  to Girilal Jain at Times of India.

--wrote for Business India as well as others

7:30 [Kai] : What kind of things...opinion pieces?

7:33 [AV] : Opinion pieces…only opinion pieces which were appearing in Column 7 8 in the Times of India as well as some of the others magazines - Business India, on various issues from economics to politics. and other....And then one of the days in which I went to give my...I'd also applied for the ..since I was applying for this job, you know, 10th-12th Junior College in Bombay, I'd also applied for  sub-editor because I didn't know the difference between sub-editor, editor, assistant...there was nothing in those days, I didn't know. So I had applied. And then one day I went to give my article to the Times of India and the Secretary there said, 'Hold on there! The editor wants to see you.' So I went in and he said, 'Look, I want to offer you a job... an as assistant editor.'

8:23 [Kai] :This was who?

8:23 [AV] : Girilal Jain.. [Kai : Girilal Jain himself] …my writing had definitely left-slant but I think his view was that  in his youth he had been part of the Royist Movement....I don't know if you're familiar with that!

8:35 [PP and AV] :M. N. Roy       

8:36 [AV] : He was part of that and I think his view was basically that although I may have come from the Left, I'll sober up and become sensible and move to the Right.  

8:45 [Kai] : Common story, yeah!

8:46 [AV] : So this thing yes...so anyway he wasn't a problem. The thing is that my own perspective which was very critical of the Soviet Union and very critical of India...this thing here...in that particular period my articles, which were mainly focused on foreign policy because I’d be very critical otherwise of Indian 9:01 domestic policies fitted into the border borderline perspective9:06 a play on both houses 9:07 So that is what I really used to write. Anyways he asked me, and I didn't know the difference. So I said, 'okay'. And he asked me, 'how much you want?' And in those days one was getting 800 to 1000 rupees if you joined junior college. So I was so stupid that I didn't even say, 'what's your starting salary'...whatever. I just said 1000 rupees. And I was writing for EPW (Re.: Economic and Political Weekly) as well elsewhere 9:24 So he looked at me and I realised that I'd pitched it low. So I said, 'well, I'd like to keep on writing for other papers. He said, 'No no...you can't do that.' No, I said 800 sorry...then I said ...then I said 1000.9:35 [laughter] Then he said, 'okay'. So he said...then I opted...he said, 'okay'. And then afterwards of course they were happy with me for one year and they gave me a five...five increments or whatever it is. But in my first year I got involved in agitation, which is where I met [laughs] Pamela...and all.

9:51 [Kai] : So you were taken on as an edit page...

9:53 [AV] : As an assistant editor. In those days, they had only assistant editor, resident editor and the editor, uh...and 10:03 [PP interrupts] and about five assistants.

10:04 and yea...we were all under the Wage Board except for the editor, right....so that even if they took you there, they had standard formats and all the rest of it.10:11 And then towards the end...my one year's probation...then towards the end of the year....just before my probation was over, there was this agitation and I as an assistant was not supposed to get involved but I got involved. 

10:23 [Kai] : Sorry...what was the agitation?

10:25 That was against the expulsion of a journalist called Padmana in the Calcutta edition of this...The Times of India. So any ways that was there and then they also said, 'cool down'...and ...what you call it...'get permanent' first. So I was involved and then they also said, 'wait till you're permanent' and then I was a bit shaken by that but any way I got permanent and then they used to be various issues and all.

10:59 [Kai] : People had struck work or what or the newspaper...?

11:02 [AV] : No, at that time what had happened was that they protested...there wasn't a strike at work. In the Times of India there was a two unions. The  CPM ... Collective Union, if I remember correctly, which was a smaller union, and then there was RJ Mehta Union, right. And these all unions were composite unions because they chose the unions which were the unions which included some journalists and also the of course the print workers and all that. And at that time the whole history of the Times of India, I'm saying this because later on, the whole history of Times of India was that if you wanted to stop the paper, you had to stop the print workers. There was a composite union ...the print workers would go on strike, right. So I even ...immediately after becoming the assistant editor I joined the 11:54 Collective Union. Any way so, there was various...so what is interesting from that period was of course, 'I was right there...established there whatever'. and writing stuff and there was going to be a transition from Ashok Jain to Sameer Jain, right. And in the mid-80s what happened is that Sameer Jain already had his own ideas and he. ..there was a big exchange of letters in which I had to part in around 1986 ..and so I still have it somewhere... in which Sameer Jain...oh yeah...this was in context in which... I'll tell you what had happened. In Indian Express in Delhi, there was a strike by journalists. Arun Shourie, who was the editor there...RSS workers came in and ....what do you call it ...broke the strike or whatever...something along those lines took place…..12:58 [a PP interrupts] they broke the strike 12:58…. they broke the strike tight and Arun Shourie defended, 13:04 [PP adds] In fact was 13:06 [Vanaik continues] was responsible for bringing in and all that and there were journalists and others.... who were... what do you call it... against it...and others. And I remember that Girilal Jain writing an editorial piece took a sort of hand off on both side ---- 'It was wrong of Arun Shourie to brought it in...' If I remember correctly but at the same time journalists are not meant to oppose the management and all the rest of it.' Now what happened then Sameer Jain got Krishnamurthy who was the 13:42 -----[PP adds] management...tenure management ----13:42 [Vanaik continues]... Taneja  was the general manager...Krishnamurthy was on personnel side ...yeah that's right. He was the deputy manager.... deputy general manager. He wrote an article saying that, 'no journalists must...', what do you call it, 'support the management' and then I wrote a letter opposing that and oh no...Sameer Jain...Sameer Jain ...no yeah----- 14:10 [PP corrects] no, you wrote---14:11 [AV continues] No, I wrote...that's right I wrote that. That letter was actually dictated by Sameer Jain and then in that article was basically saying that, 'newspapers are just like soap and 14:21 [PP adds] brand 14:22 ...brand and all the rest of it; so I remember that he got...I used to come to Delhi from time to time also to also do work here. My family was here so I had come for two or three days, and he said okay fine' because I was on the editorial side I could write from anywhere.so that was not a problem. And when I came there, Sameer Jain called me to his office and he says, 'You can't...how can I have you doing this and writing this.'  I said, 'it's my write' and so I said, 'I'm going to'. And then he sort of cooled off and then I went down and then the senior manager...very senior manager on the administrative side...in just about hour or so later called me up and tried to bribe me...in certain sense...'will you...how about you taking over this particular supplement to do that.' So I said, 'I am not interested in that that time'...anyway I. That was there later.  Then what happened was that ...so that's what was going on...and then I took a leave to write my first book. I got a visiting fellowship at the Centre for Social Studies in Surat. And that was six months and I had about some leave accumulated also. So I took that and I asked for some leave without pay. So I was writing my book. I'd written my book...I'd come back and joined the Times of India...working and then this big agitation started about Indian Post. What happened was that Sameer Jain had his own ideas. He had taken over by this time. This also created a certain problems in the sense what is really the larger story what you call... you must certainly know...is that earlier on the editor from the historical.... the editor was separate from the management and there was a certain freedom and status of the editor was the same as the status on that side and all the rest of it. Sameer Jain was the last...oh sorry... Girilal Jain was the last editor that enjoyed that status. After that of course, there was a complete change...in short the relationship of forces changed between journalists and the management. From the management side and Sameer Jain, this was a very conscious policy to do that. Although Girilal Jain as an individual...all didn't like it

--wrote opinion pieces over a range of topics from politics to economics.

---Also applied for sub-editorship while searching for jobs in Bombay colleges.

---Narration on getting a job at Times of India.

--Girilal Jain as the Editor—of Royist Movement ---He thought that AV would eventually change from his Leftist stance.

---AV on the nature and bent of his writing---critical of Soviet Union, of Indian domestic policy---so preferred to write on foreign policy.

---Narration of Interview at Times of India and salary.

---AV joined as an Assistant Editor on one-year probation.

--All except Editor under Wage Board.

--AV got involved in agitation when he was not allowed to do so over expulsion of journalist called Padmana of the Calcutta edition of TOI.

---AV explains the working of the Unions

--CPM a smaller union and R. J. Mehta Union.

---The manner in which the union-composition of the strikers-and print nexus worked during a strike.

---AV joined the collective Union.

---Transition from Ashok Jain to Sameer Jain in mid-1980s.

--Sameer Jain had his own ideas on running the papers.

---AV left on account of a strike in c.1986.

---details of the strike.

--Role of Arun Shourie and editorial by Girilal Jain.

---Nuances of power struggle between the management on one side and journalists on the other.

--Sameer Jain introducing changes.

----Struggle between Sameer Jain and AV.

---AV on a six months fellowship at the Centre for Social Studies in Surat.

---AV rejoined Times of India and took part in agitation about Indian Post.

­---More on power struggle between Sameer Jain, Girilal Jain and others.

 16:43 Do you have any anecdotes how that went down and how it was imposed on Girilal Jain ?

16:50 Well, Girilal Jain's view was that he could...he had a very good relationship with Ashok Jain. And since he was not somebody who was connected...you see one of the biggest problems there was that ...this is actually very interesting in the sense that what happened there was that the senior journalist did not link up with the rest of the journalist staff... that was one and Girilal Jain at the very very top would rely, in case he wanted the autonomy himself, and all that. He was in pointed connect with the journalists or with the Unions. That he couldn't do and neither with the resident editors which was at that time K. C. Khanna and and 17:29 Inder Malhotra in Delhi.17:3019:26 And then you had lot of others ...Prem Shankar Jha and assistant editors...this business of senior assistant editors came towards the last part of the '80s. and I was... they wouldn't offer me but I was very categorical I won't because that's when they started introducing the contract system and subsequently the contract system went down down down down as you know and all that earlier so any way ...so Girilal Jain used to rely on his personal relationship with Ashok Jain based upon so many years...that gave him some measure but Ashok Jain was handing over the authority to Sameer and in one particular point  18:11[PP adds] he disappeared almost...he went to the US18:13 He went ...he more or less at one point made it clear to Girilal Jain that look Sameer Jain is taking over and look you can’t really come to me.

18:26 [Vanaik asks for confidentiality for the next point]...If you turn this off, I'll just say one thing also…

18:28 [Kai responds] okay 

18:29 [AV] : …. so basically so what do you call it plus of course anyway what had happened was...when I had come back the ...Sameer Jain brought in The Indian Post, was that?18:50 [PP interrupts] He set it up as a model 18:54 that's right and what he did 18:56 [PP adds] contract system18:56  [AV continues] He gave them (salary) journalists' scale 18:59 [PP adds] huge jump 19:02 the very very new ....huge jumps which antagonised 19:05 [PP adds] and also on the contract system    19:07 [V continue] and also on the contract system but huge jumps...incidentally what happened was also that, you must recognise, that the collective union was getting weakened, R.J. was getting stronger, it's a composite union but this union has a certain collusion with  19:22 [PP adds] with the management 19:22 [V continues] with the management.  19:23[PP adds] with the R.J. Mehta 19:25 I mean there's certain degree of collusion or co-operation or whatever you want to call it in terms of that. This is....comes important because of what happened later. And then what happened is that when they brought it in the journalists...many of them who had been there...in Economic Times and others for twenty twenty years, they were shocked at these things here. So we called, myself and M J Pandey and all. I was also part of the Bombay Union of Journalists and all that...where incidentally when we tried to introduce a code of conduct for journalists which was that – look don't take 20:01 [PP adds] gifts20:01   shootings when, you know, they go to give the share prices and don't do this 20:05 [PP adds] umbrellas 20:05 [AV continues]  we were told basically to bum off...'what the hell yaar! we don't get that much money and now you want to remove us from getting these perks and whatever it is etc.' Then this one... Anyway we said that we that we have to do this otherwise they'd tried to built it in. 20:19 so we...so what happened is that ...we had a meeting with Taneja20:25 [PP adds] who was the general manager20:26 [V continues] who was the general manager there, and said what is going on about this, and all the rest of it. And then Taneja made a statement, which said…he said, 'look the old days are over here, doesn't matter how long you've worked etc etc is going to do that.' So when we came out and this got reported, the journalists, the elder journalists were extremely angry and these are people who had never been part of agitation and were not radical or anything of that sorts. And there was a great decision that we'll have a strike ...so we had a strike. 

20:58 [Kai asks] this was which year?

20:59 [AV] : This was, I think, 1990 21:04  [PP confirms] 1990 21:05  [AV] :1990, in fact I came back here . so then what happened was...and this was a strike by journalists, yeah...indepe..[unfinished]...no, we had also gone to R J Mehta, right. This was early on in the agitation. This was being done and R J Mehta was very wary about what do you call it an Independent Union emerging… independent even of him because his was a very dictatorial kind of approach. He had this chellas, remember...what was his name?21:34  [PP adds] Ivan 21:35 [PP corrects herself] no sorry not Ivan 21:35 [Kai] What was the origin, sorry I don't known about R J Mehta. 21:40 R J Mehta was an independent trade unionist who started in independent. Independent mean...himself not linked to any political party 21:46 [Kai enquires] and no affiliation 21:47 [AV] : No affiliation...any particular so that was ---- [PP: Just himself] --- And he was of course (too much disturbance in the background—[Kai interjects : former journalist himself?] ---- …No. { Phone as  well as Kai at the same time}

---On relationship between Girilal Jain and Ashok Jain.

---Girilal Jain and his backup.

---K.C. Khanna and Inder Malhotra, Prem Shankar Jha.

---Ashok Jain withdrew from Girilal Jain.

---Sameer Jain and introduction of Contract System.

----R.J. Mehta and Union

---- heightening of tensions.

----journalists who had never gone on strike, went on strike in 1990.

---Emergence of a Union independent of R J Mehta.

21:52 [Kai] : he was a journalists himself?

21:53 [AV] : NO, not necessarily I don't know. So yeah (PP interject: You can put this on silent perhaps?) --- 22:23 So he had a number of Unions in different places independent. This was if you like more in the form of a ...another person was Datta Samant of course who started these things.... ---- [PP: the textile strike] so there were also in Bombay 22:40 a town with you know with workers of various kinds and so on. But R. J. Mehta this is ...let me put it this way...it's much more ..at first even though it's independent, it's not in the same tradition as independent unions in others in western countries etc. It would be tend to move more in direction of what you would call certain degree of business unionist ---- [PP: And also management...and they had the support of the ..] ---- [Kai : But running a bit of a racket?] --- ...yea! I don't want to say anything because I'll just want to tell to do exception. ----23:11 [Kai : Yeah] …..Right? But he was the one who was negotiating for the journalists and all these journalists were loyal towards him etc. 23:19 When the strike took place under a sort of collective leadership in which I was the senior most Assistant Editor...only assistant editor that was involved there. And M. J. Pandey who was the reporter. We were sort of seeing this informally...whatever it is, anyway. 23:36 That threatened R. J. Mehta as well as the management. And they did not take any punishment then because I think Taneja and all realised that this was an expression of great anger and upsetting what was happening there at Indian Post. And then subsequently of course what happened on was that this carried on...this simmered on and the R. J. Mehta main man...Christian guy… --what was his name?... ---- [PP : Forget his name, yeah!] ----- I can't remember his name. How can I not remember? In any case, Preeti Mehra who was in the business...business line ----- [PP: She's presently in the business line]  ----.... presently in the business line, she was a journalist there and she was also a part; and so we were moving in the building itself...The Times of India building had any number of journalists of all sorts of kinds...Economic Times, Femina, ----- [W interjects while AV is speaking in the background: Illustrated Weekly (Last word is not clear) ------ .... and different places....all that we were seeking was support ...so we were moving around and she was also moving around; and this fellow who was R. J. Mehta's point man .... --- [PP : Fernandes...I think...his name] ---- .... Fernandes...something I can't remember..24:49 shouted at her and even hit her...hurt her...got very angry because she was moving around this thing here. And we all got very very angry and we organised another strike. Now the interesting thing about both these strikes was upto then in the whole history perhaps the news paper industry ... this is something you'd have to check...because certainly in the history of Times of India and even perhaps in the newspaper industry....this was the first time that a strike which could stop the paper was done only by journalists. 25:20 Early of course .... [PP : there was always a printer] ---... the composite union staff ---- (Kai and AV talks at the same time...Kai's voice is not clear) ----..... It was also probably a reflection to some extent of changing technologies 25:31 this time whatever but at that time it happened and so this was something that was a shock. One journalist which had a certain credibility publicly...second threatening R. J. Mehta ...25:48 ???? because it would be independent union which would be non-corruptible and all the rest of it...it was a collusion so and we had the protest outside the ...this thing...the other papers reported very negatively... ----- [PP : This is in Bombay...the bullying] ----.... this is in Bombay...negatively on what had happened...journalists had started strike. They even had a...and things came out in other papers so they're getting a bad reputation. And it was after this that they decided they must do something about us. So what happened it that M. J. Pandey ...we were there...there's something called Disciplinary Enquiries, right? So I had three charge sheets on me. And he had five charge sheets on him. 

---R.J. Mehta’s background—not a journalists but an independent trade unionist.

--- Datta Samant

----M.J. Pandey

---attack on Preeti Mehra by R. J. Mehta’s main man call for another strike.

---strike by journalists only.

---negative reportage of the strike in Bombay papers.

---Beginning of Disciplinary Enquiries.

26:30 [Kai] : This is internal charge sheets not a police case?

26:31 [PP and AV] : Yeah! ---- [AV continues] : ...internal charge sheets...this is what are called Disciplinary hearings. Now what disciplinary hearing s are is that management hires somebody from outside whose a lawyer..lawyer to carry out. You can have anybody who want to represent you on these disciplinary hearings, right. Now the point about the disciplinary hearings is that ultimately because it is paid by the management brought in, the decision is going to be in their favour.26:55 The key to...for those of us who in the disciplinary hearings is not to try to convince him of our case but various charges are dropped so that he makes some procedural technical legal mistake. So...what the hell are you talking about 27:11 (Not clear)  whatever it is 27:13  That's the key towards doing that. So this is course the propriety process so he got five show-cause notices and I got three...three show-cause notices and what we did is because these were attempts to intimidate journalists and all, so what we used to do...in my case what happened...what I did in my case...is that they gave a show- cause notice which I still kept......I'll this thing...And I wrote a response to it making fun of the show-cause notice and then circulating to all the journalists because we felt that we should try to break down this fear. 27:49 So if I just give you a sample... ---- 27:50 [PP : You can perhaps photocopy it and give it to him.]  ----- If you want to. ------ 27:54 [Kai : ????] ---- With show cause notices, you see, what happens is the whole process...we were very angry, we complained to the press what is this way you treat women? In fact what had happened was they even had a bathroom assigned which is very ...not to women and then that got publicised because we took a photo and released it to other newspapers and all the rest of it. Then they quickly changed the sign and all and we actually went to the personnel manager and said that here. And I suddenly got this show-notice- It has been reported against you as under: “That on June 26 1990 at about 3:30 p.m. you were accompanied by Mr M. J. Pandey of the Times of India and Mr Reno... ---- 28:31 [PP : Haan] ----.... Mr W. Reno of the Economic Times,” he was the R. J. Mehta man...”barged into the cabin of,” the...no ...no ... Reno was not there...sorry...wasn't Reno...somebody else...it'll come to me...any way... “barged into the cabin of the personnel director without any appointment or prior permission when he was in a meeting with Arul Arora Direct modernisation, Mr Ranjan Garg, Channel Manager Bombay and disturbed their meeting. In course of some arguments between Mr Pandey, Mr Arora, Mr Garg, when the personnel director intervened to say that - you along with Mr Pandey, Mr Reno,”...a Reno was not there ... “and entered the room without permission and disturbed the meeting progress and requested the three of you to get a fresh appointment from Mr Garg and to leave to do their work, you shout asunder.”---- I'd given a complaint against Mr Miranda...Miranda was the person who had hit Preeti.----- “What action has been taken by you. You must answer me right now. I know that you'll not take any action even when the lady was threatened by 80 person because he had a group around him...no action was taken by you against them. 29:32 You don't have any manners etc. When the personal narrative told you that it was not necessary to report you what action has been initiated and once again requested you to leave the office, you refused to comply and continue to disturb the meeting...you left this room only when security officers arrived along with another journalist Mr Prabhakar Nair.” --- He was also a journalist there...working in 29:51 ????  --- “to prevail upon you and other two colleagues. The Above alleged acts of misconduct have been viewed very seriously by the management and you are hereby called upon to show-cause within 48 hours of receive to this letter as to why strict disciplinary action including dismissal from company services shall not be taken against you. Please note that if no explanation is received within the stipulated period it will be presumed that you have no explanation to offer and thereafter disciplinary action as deemed fit will be taken against you as provided by the ....”---- This all is bullshit  that the management ..30:22 ??? 30:22 So this is what I wrote back and then circulated. 

(Text of the response of AV to the show-cause notice: )

This is in reply to your show-cause note dated June 26, 1990. I can no longer even express astonishment at the depths of subterfuge to which the management rebelled Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd. 30:37 hereafter BCC Ltd. ,are prepared to go in order to harass and victimise me. 30:41 These efforts on part of the management has for sometime now, taken a form of a frenzy and fanatic crusade in which such fundamental moral attributes as integrity 30:49 ??? have been completely discarded. As you know full well I and others mailed you a notice...” ----- 30:56 [PP: Achin make it short.] -----.... yeah. “Any ways I had to meet Mr Garg and Mr Arora 2:30 p.m. on June 26 we arrived due to other unavoidable delays outside the offices at 2:50 and we were told by the Secretary that they had gone to see Mr Seeva Ram in his room in the personnel 31:09 ????  It was only after that she phoned and told us on the basis of our telephone conversation of ...31:15 ...???? and all that. And Mr Arora, Mar Garg, and Mr Seva Ram widely respected for his immaculate manners towards women journalists. She was impressed by the Manager who also behaved very rudely. A lot of women also came in very upset later on. They went to protest against what had happened to Preeti. 31:31 ???  but in the meeting Mr ... and Mr Zachary, we were asked to wait until that meeting was over...it's true. You yourself have given the lie to your claim that we barged in at 3:30. Had we wished to barge in and stop proceeding as you falsely claim, we could have hardly shown impeccable courtesy in waiting outside for fully half-an hour unless you believe I and others named are in the habit of wanting to twiddle our thumbs for at least half-an hour before supposedly barging into meeting. 31:55 In paragraphs 1-2-3-4 of the show cause notice you've given your account where rendition can justifiably claim the status of being highly original indeed surrealistic in his depiction of what transformed (Corrects himself)  ...transpired. 32:07 Sensibly it would be unfair to expect that the necessary qualifications for becoming a Senior Manager BCC should include familiarity with the theory and history of culture. Let me therefore point out that surrealism refers to a movement in prose, poetry and painting with origins in the early part of the century, which sought to express on paper, canvas what was either imagined or dreamt. 32:27 The end product of such endeavours although often aesthetically striking bear no relationship whatever to realism or the real world. Rest assured that by critical reaction to your fabrications is leavened with the yeast of aesthetic 32:39 ??? as well. On a more mundane level, let me categorically state that your account is a concatenation of deliberate prevarications, terminological in-exactitude if you prefer euphemisms and misrepresented the narrative for the sole purposes of defaming me and others, you have to...”--- sorry very quickly here ---- ....  32:59 in the moment it was point out it was the end of.. ---- Any way I don't want to go into ..

---Internal charge sheets and not police case.

--Explanation of the whole Disciplinary Enquiries processes by AV.

---trick and loop holes of Disciplinary Enquiries.

---details of show-cause notice sent to AV.

---Details of AV’s response to the show-cause notice,

33:03 [Kai] : But lots of sarcasm.

33:05 [AV] : Lot of sarcasm, for example just one last bit - "As for the security man who in your account arrived to put an end to the meeting to take us out even Sherlock Holmes would not have been able to trace their presence on that occasion. One is reminded of one of Mr H. G. Well's work - The Invisible Man. The security men were not visible at any point during the event in question because they were not there ...were not called there... never came there unless they were hiding behind the furniture." …various things.

33:29 [PP] : Basically it was to demonstrate   (PP's voice is drowned by AV's) ----... demonstrate and cut down the fear business and all.

33:34 [AV] : So any way it's quite funny ...all the rest of it. We’re certain people had a good laugh and all that. But the...that thing carried on so that process carried on. One mistake ... (mumbles) sorry...this is the...one mistake happened in the sense that this was the celebration of the ... ---- [PP : Cent cinquante] ---....of the French Revolution ... 33:59 [PP : Oh! Acha! I thought 150 years...no that came later] ---... no, that is later. 

34:03 [Kai] : So '89 ? ---- [PP : Haan, that ..] ---- [AV : No, the French Revolution 1789 took place in ] ---- [PP : that was '89] --- [AV : Wasn't it August? Yeah August ...] ----- [Kai : I remember the year only ]--- ... the month ...the reason for that  was we were building up, there was a lot of this thing here and we were getting a lot of support from journalists and others and yet they were not backing down in terms of conceding to our demands …this …that…whatever… on the Indian Post and all that. So what...a lot of people and journalists have come together ...so we had a big meeting at the Press Club...all this had happened ... the second strike had just happened on the eve of the French Revolution....of the Bastille Day ... --- 34:37 [Kai : Bastille Day] --- ... Right! This had just happened on the eve of Bastille Day etc. and a lot of people came and they were very angry .... 34:44 (AV's words are drowned by PP) [PP : So it must have been July.] --- ... So then there was a collective decision. We were, in hindsight, too democratic because I remember it was a D-day but we wanted to be very democratic and all the rest of it; and we agreed to something we were not happy...many of us...we were saying-let's negotiate now and a push when we’d sent feelers and all.35:03 And they were saying – no...no. what we'll do is that we will stop not just the Times well for one day because Time of India is a daily paper…we will stop this by all of us going on a mass leave including the journalists who are not part of Times of India...we'll take mass leave. So then they took mass leave but what happened then...is that the Chief Reporter ...what was... they were not going to be participators ...too scared ...and the chief ..chief... what's it...news editors and all...I remember Darryl D'monte were very bitter about it ... Darryl D'monte... so many others and some...even Kalpana Sharma and many others...they were on the editorial side...they assistant editors, the senior and this thing here. 35:49 They all participated with a small...  ----  [PP: Keeping the paper going] ---- ... what happened is Sameer Jain and the newspaper...that time it was this fellow had taken over because he had retired- Dilip Padgaonkar... ---- 36:04 [PP : Couple of more? Can I give you?] ---- 36:05 Dilip Padgaonkar earlier Dilip Padgaonkar had come to talk to me and the rest of it and we gave him a lambasting....this thing here. But ... --- 36:16 [PP : But basically it was the end of the... ] ---- .... no no not yet...but what happened basically is that under the this thing here...instead of supporting us, they...they started doing the necessary work on the subbing ... ---- [PP : Subbing and so on ] ---- ... subbing and all..to keep that thing. So when the paper came out...it was  a shock and that in a certain sense was the turning point in hindsight. .. in the reaction there. From that period on they got the great confidence that they could handle this ...whatever. --- [PP : Upper hand] -- So it started 36:50 we carried out the further agitation, I went on a four day hunger strike along with M. J. in Church Gate area  about the Indian Post issue.37:00 They were some concessions...you and all had come here .. I was the only child of my parents so I had to move here. So even earlier to this, the kids came in first and then Pam came ... --- [PP : So I wasn't there when all this happened but basically Achin if you have to link it with the Emergency ...basically...] ----... so all this happened. How the Emergency?

---More narration of AV’s response.

---Meeting at the Press Club and the strategical error made.

---decision to go on a mass leave but betrayed by some.

--- Darryl D'monte, Kalpana Sharma, Dilip Padgaonkar

---four day hunger strike.

---how to link it with Emergency?

37:23 [Kai] : No...no I was just going to ask ...it's a fascinating story of ..of agitation and conflict with two things- One I wanted you to talk a little bit more about your earlier trips during the Emergency and whatever contacts you may have had with journalists but ...but also, I mean, given the relative lack of ..of…militancy and collective action in journalism during the Emergency, it's startling and interesting to ..to see this level of activity..

37:58 [AV] : This is after the Emergency.

38:00 [Kai] : This is well after the Emergency.

38:01 [AV] : However during the Emergency, one of our close contacts was active with us... was in fact a person I won't mention his name who's involved with major papers. And he was a contact etc. And yeah...yeah..during the Emergency we were basically doing as I said making connections with the underground, carry out ..what do you call it...study circle, classes. We got involved in agitation with ...with regard to...because there were also slum clearances during the Emergency. ...38:35 [PP: Turkman Gate]---... not in Delhi but also there...That was what  was called the ...it was called the Cheetah Camp...Cheetah Camp because when I came there I also saw ...apart from what the...I was 38:45 ??? I also was working in the slums during the Emergency . So there was a slum activity which was carried on...So Cheetah Camp was to be demolished and all. So we had set up a kind of this thing…knowing that they'll demolish in ...that we should try to send information about this and all that...all these things. So those are the things we were involved in.. some connection with the journalist…the only journal...paper which was standing out was of course The Indian Express and I think... --- 39:17  [PP: But Sunder Ranjan was arrested] ---- Sunder Rajan was arrested. Our contact was working in one other papers not The Indian Express but one of the papers of the Express. And he was close...we were active in various other things and we were doing this and trying to see what we could do in terms of smuggling little bit into ...into the papers...small ...small things like that... so that was what we actually want. 

39:38 [Kai] : But later ...since you worked essentially  in the Times of India Group.. what was the atmosphere or cultural memory in that paper about the Emergency? Was there a sense of ..of shame ...was an invented sense of ...of ..of.   ----39:53 [AV : She'll (PP) tell you much more because she was in the paper at that time. She can tell you about the ...] ----... haan but no I'm asking you about ... 40:01 [PP : experience] ....--- because you joined in ...you joined in ...you joined in the post-Emergency period but the memory of that is still very fresh.

40:08 [AV] : Well what happened is that there were some people who were ...who were may have been involved in that but as far as I know hardly anybody ...Sunder Rajan was of course involved ..there was contempt for the role of Khuswant Singh there but it was ...

40:28 [Kai] : But how did Girilal Jain's reputation come out of this?

40:31 [AV] : Shyam Lal's reputation was not good.... ---- [Kai : Again not good...though apparently he ..he wrote a blistering attack on Emergency immediately ...yes afterwards] ----.... afterwards. So the attitude towards Sunder Rajan was of course very courageous...and there were one or two...other also like...now he's gone ...different when I think of ...what's his name?? ... who's in that....Who's now the president of the Press Club? What's his name? How can I forget? Aree yaar who is now Nawjawan Bharat Sabha...Gurbir Singh...Gurbir Singh and others...they were people who were connected .... ---[PP : Young.....He must have been very young] ---.... he may be but connected to various groups...you had people like Auzar and other...the Maoist group and others who had some ...who were doing ...so we even had a few journalists 41:18 which perhaps you can talk about during the Emergency period but the post-Emergency and were doing sort of underground work. They were closer ...in one way the other connected to Maoist tradition. So in so far as the Mao... and you had at that period of time, I can tell you number of people...people like Kobad Gandhy others...we were all part of a larger circle of ...because of what happened there is that immediately after the Emergency, you had the setting up of the civil liberties groups... ---- 41:46 [PP: And the Shah Commission and all  this]  ----- .... PUC, PUDR, CPDR in Bombay…Arun Shourie joined it immediately first and then he got very angry because the Left began to play a bigger role and then renounced it that year. 41:58 (PP's voice overrides AV's) --- [PP : In fact Subramanian Swamy was also at PUCL at one---    [AV : That I don't know] ----- Yeah yeah...all of them...] ---so all of these were there. One other things that happened after the Emergency...but so Shyam Lal's reputation for all the top 42:12 ??? it was worse that he had just succumbed very partly to that. Afterwards he said terrible…terrible etc. A person who did show some resistance although he's the biggest slob you can ever imagine in your life...because we know inside out...and that's the creator of the Common Man- R. K. Laxman. Slob of the highest order ...it's amazing...this thing here but he was unhappy about and this is something that became much clearer ...because we used to have these morning meetings in which we all talked and all the rest of it. He's had a very interesting....very creative eye in terms of looking at things and as a...but he'd take up only fundamental personal reasons ...he doesn't want any restraints on what he cartoons. It's not about the larger political ... 42:55 [PP: Abu...you're talking of Abu] ----- .... 42:55 No, Abu is much more later...R. K. Laxman...His exaggerated reputation on all the rest of it...personally ..many a creep. This thing... but he and I shared a good relationship but it's always a relationship in which of course he's the senior boss and you're this thing here...but we had a good relation because we had a sense of fun and we both enjoyed magic...magic tricks...so he used to bring magic 43:19 ??? But I'm giving you this background any way about there...So this thing here ...with regard to the Shyam Lal's reputation was bad. All these other people's ...I did not know.

----Details of Emergency

---making underground connections.

---Cheetah Camp

---AV worked in slums during the Emergency.

--arrest of Sunder Rajan.

--smuggling information in papers.

---Was there a sense of shame in TOI?

---contempt for Khuswant Singh.

--Shyam Lal’s reputation not good post-Emergency especially after his editorial once it was over.

--- Nawjawan Bharat Sabha...Gurbir Singh

---Auzar and other Maoist Groups.

---Kobad Gandhy.

---Shah Commission and revelations.

‘---Subramanian Swamy at PUCL.

---On R. K. Laxman, a slob who didn’t like any restraints imposed on his work.

---R.K. Laxman and AV bonded over magic tricks.

43:34 [Kai] : But Girilal Jain you yourself is saying somehow unscathed by it?

43:37 [AV] : But he was not Editor if I remember correctly ...Emergency or maybe just came towards the very ...towards the end. So he escaped the aplombian that there was more about Shyam Lal. I think what happened is that he came...I joined in November 1978...and he may have come after the Emergency ...you check. ..immediately 43:54 [PP : As the Editor in Chief] ---... as the Editor in Chief right. He himself  44:00  [PP : But they were like both together the pillars Times of India.] --- ... but I can know the cynicism behind one that is happening because for example when Rahul Gandhi...Oh Yeah! ...This no.. no...no..no. 44:15 I joined in a... - [PP : '78]....remember '78..when did Sanjay Gandhi ... --- [ PP : died?] --- ... died in the plan? 

44:22 [Kai] : '80 I think ..    [PP: 1980]

44:25 [AV] : Haan, 1980. okay ..now what happened is very revealing because Girilal Jain came out with a front page editorial saying -- How terrible this day ..this thing yaar! .... --- 44:33  [PP interrupts: '80 ..'81 perhaps because his mother had come back to power] ---- ....  I can't remember and I was coming into the room all ??? and saying 'What is this bloody nonsense as such?' I was going to argue with him and he totally floored me. He said, 'this is the best thing that has happened to India.' He actually write an editorial which is totally different...said something else...totally different...whatever it is... Any way.  

44:52 [PP] : But the editorial position .... ----

44:54  [AV : was terrible you can say. I used to write editorials but I could write editorials ...I only wrote editorials in Foreign Issues, which I could my take my views...which I wasn't unlike now...This is something that was credible let...I was not going to compromise the terms of my politics for the sake of that...So I hardly...so I only wrote in foreign issues of various kinds and those days you could take a position...any way. So ... yeah...that was it. During the Emergency and even after the Emergency those of us who felt positions ...we would try to see in what way we could intervene to help it...out...in this thing here. I remember at that time he was there....the.. Harish Khare was western editor, Ahmedabad. 45:42 And I was connected to the groups who were fighting against exploitation of workers in ...what do you call it?....those who were helping construct the Kevadia...Kevadia Dam...So I was involved in there. And they did something very terrible I think...They...somebody got killed and all the rest of it....whatever ----- 46:03 [PP : This was the early period of Narmada agitation.] --- And there was a very good progressive priest who also supported them...so I went and met the priest and then I went and met the management, and because I'd come from ...from this thing...I did a report, which Harish Khare not knowing about ...I just decided to do that...although as an Assistant Editor, it came on the front page of the Ahmedabad Edition of the Times.  

46:25 [PP] : He must have got lambed?

46:26 [AV] : No, he didn't get lambed or anything else but I remember Abu Abraham saying , 'My god! Look at what has come out!' So things like that or for example at that time... you heard about the of course Kobad Gandhy. They were...we were all together but...I mean they're all connect in various ways but they come from Left tradition, which I did not come from. They came from the Maoist tradition. I came from the other tradition. And he went underground as you know. His wife Anu...Anurad...Anuradha Gandhy   nah?...that's right. Susan Abraham, who's

47:04 [PP] : But that's later...

47:05 [AV] : That was later ...that was in the '80s what happened...She got arrested and myself and two other journalists...we went on a .... ---- [PP : Fact finding] --- ... fact finding because we used to be involved in fact-finding...we went on a fact-finding thing to...what's it....Kya yaar 47:21 [PP and AV together : Gachiroli]… Gachiroli and we met this thing here and then we wrote something and I wrote something which came in the ...the newspaper editorial. This thing or for example at that time there was a ...so we could use it to some limited extent. One wrote an editorial support of EPW (Read: Economic and Political Weekly), which had come out. Those were various things that we did then. But the larger context of what you're talking about in terms of this thing yaar...yeah...sorry... So that's what happened. I don't know how much this is something that you wanted?

---Post-Emergency changes.

---Girilal Jain on the death of Sanjay Gandhi and its reflection of cynicism.

---AV opted to write editorials only on foreign issues.

---by doing the above he could keep on to his credibility.

---Harish Khare the western editor.

---Kevadia Dam

---early period of Narmada agitation.

---support of a progressive priest.

--AV’s editorial in Ahmedabad Edition of the Times which came as a surprise.

---Av on another fact-finding trip.

47:53 [Kai] : I don't know whether this is a reach but in terms of this longer story of ..of ...Sameer Jain and ..and corporate control asserting itself in ... in...in the papers ...I also would want you to like go both ways and tell how you think that has progressed in terms of journalism. But do you think it’s a reach to connect back ...back to the Emergency and the management's experience of ..of...of seeing acquiesce of journalists and...and editors or it's just a new generation you think in a new time new economy?

48:30 [AV] : I think it's much more related to the change economy ..the change in thinking. The attempt to reassert ...in various... attempt to reassert management control and corporate control here. One of the greatest...I mean Times of India has actually been the leader and all the amazing things about Sameer Jain is that not only did he change the character of the paper and downgraded but that model has been very successful. And what Sameer Jain did with many of us didn't realise at that time was probably him was a reflection of a new generation of more younger people in different areas ... --- 49:08 [PP : Corporate professional]  --- ... professional ...matlab professional world which represented a new kind of thinking and all the rest of it. So I would also connect it for example to the larger changes that were taking in Indian society... --- 49:22 [PP : Political economy] --... the Times of India was for example in the Times from 1978 I was here, one began to see the shift in the Economic Times and the kind of editorial line, change of editors from the one who was there earlier towards Menon...The growing influence of neo-liberal kind of thinking. ---- 49:40 [PP : Hannan Ezekiel maybe no?] 

49:42 [AV] : No...not ...not Hannan...another fellow...he was this Gujarati fellow --- [PP agrees with AV's correction with - yea yea...]  --- And this thing here. A change in way of thinking. So I could write the way I could write because there was still this idea of Indian non-alignment...this thing here, right! But you are having shifts in that which began to reflect themselves in the paper, which was also related to these developments in terms of the assertion of authority of the ...of...of the corporate side here. 50:15 What we can say is that Times of India ...Sameer Jain was key in introducing I think a model for what other subject all follow. Crucial to that model was his very conscious determination to impose the authority of the corporate side to that and to get away; and he wrote in the sub 50:36 “Don't treat this thing as a kind of sacrosanct fourth pillar of democracy and all that,” because Girilal Jain , Shyam Lal ...they all still belonged to that kind of a tradition. 50:45 And they still felt that. And he was very clearly different. And once ...so his was a conscious policy in terms of bringing in...trying to push through...he didn't always succeed. But...he did succeed overall but sometimes there was resistance. He called a meeting for all of us 51:02 And he wanted to get across the idea that we must work together 51:04 and this…that…etc. And it ended up with him being very very despondent because you said -- you get the bathrooms clean ...that's the biggest problem we have. So then that the way...treat us...any way but so he did succeed and there was a defeat of these struggles. There was a weakening of the...all that...So one is on the level of ideology...the second was this whole business of bringing in of the contract system and finishing off the wage-bond approach. 

Interview Ends abruptly....

---On changes in economy, journalism , management and position of journalists.

--In AV’s opinion, all this is linked with the changes in economy which manifested in different business models which most did not understand, with Sameer Jain being an exception.

----Growing influence of neo-liberal thinking being reflected in newspapers and related set-ups.

---More on the changes ushered in by Sameer Jain.