INTERVIEWEE* Name: Tavleen Singh [TS]
- Occupation: Journalist, column writer and writer.
INTERVIEWER* Farah Yameen
Medium: Audio recordings* Format/ Type of File: Wav
- Language: English with smatterings in Hindi
- Location of Interview:
- Date of the interview: 17 May 2016
Clip name/DURATION: * Name: fy_tsingh_raw_170516.wav
Bit Rate 1536kbps
Size 721 MB
Date modified 17 May 2016 17:59:22
| 0:03 [FY] : So today is the 17 of May (2016) and I am interviewing Tavleen Singh for the Archives of Political at Marian (sic) [Median] Tagore Centre. So would first introduce yourself and your career?
0:17[TS] : I began my career in journalism oddly enough working local newspaper in England called the Slough Evening Mail and that was '71. And so I was in England...I did my training as a sort of like all local reporters do police fire magistrates, courts, local government and then I came back to India in '74; and couldn’t get a job for a year. There was...It was very difficult for women in journalism particularly at that time. I think there must have been five women in journalism. You could really count them, you knew all, you know it was really a man's world. So after a year looking for a job, I managed to get one in May 1975, right...one month before the Emergency was declared. So you know, I mean it was just the most depressing thing because I was like -here I am...I finally get a job and you know, it...there maybe no journalism! 1:32 So that was how my career began.
1:35 [FY] : So given that you were already working as a journalist in England, you must have been observing what was happening in the country and so, I mean, given that there were a lot of things happening before the Emergency...there were some sort of clamp downs, I mean there were, I mean I don't know if you were aware of it...you were still a very young person. .I think you were twenty-four.
2:03 So what do you remember of the news that you read in the period preceding the Emergency while you were in India looking for a job?
2:10 [TS] : Well you know, it was a very turbulent time and a there was the murder of the L. N. Mishra (Ref.: murder of L. N. Mishra, Minister of Railways in 1975) who was a you know a major minister in the government of Indira Gandhi. She was very unpopular. 2:26 There was the Bihar Movement going on. There was a student agitating in Gujarat. You know I wasn't a journalist...so I was just observing this. And there was no journalism really. It was ...what I think it was somebody called Gracious Form of Clerkship.2:45 You know there were five newspapers in India....five English newspapers...of which I got a job in Statesman was one of those and there were two major Hindi newspapers- Navbharat Times and a Hindustan Times and I thing Jansatta may have been around as well. But they didn't have the kind of circulation that we have today. I mean the media was really a very small creature. So you didn't know what was going on really because for a start the reporting of these events was probably better done by say Raghu Rai's pictures than any reporting out of Bihar. These newspapers that were in Delhi were very reluctant to send journalists to go an cover events because it really was clerkship. There were old ...doggery old journalists who didn't you know really see what was going on. 3:49 As clearly as it would be seen today.
3:54 [FY] : You're saying that the period is seen more clearly in retrospect than it was at that point of time?4:00 [TS] : '74...the year '74 and it was only when JP...when the Movement came to Delhi which was just before the Allahabad court judgement, it was in that summer that you know there were big rallies and the Opposition was coming together to take on Indira Gandhi. And you see elections were due in '75 I think or '76 ...--- [FY : '76 yeah.] ---- ....'76. So you know they were building up...it was really the opposition coming together to take her on and that's when it started to get real coverage in the newspapers. By then I was already with the Statesman, you know, I mean. 4:40 The meetings that I am talking about were in just before the Emergency...I think they were in June. The big JP rally and all that.
4:49 [FY] : He had started from Bihar and he had come and that's when you joined?
4:52 [TS] : He'd been you know collecting support in the year before...the movement I'm not sure exact when it began...the Bihar Movement. I didn't cover it but he had been getting students and politicians together long before that. And long before the Emergency itself and…but I was really ...it was completely not in my ...not on my radar.
5:24 [FY] : This might sound like an add question but when you got to the Statesman, there would have been an interview process, I'm assuming. 5:31[TS] : Well yes but you know I had two-and-a-half years of working on the…I had quite a good portfolio.
5:41 [FY] : I'm just trying to gauge a sense of what they would have asked in terms of how that would reflect the journalism in the country.
5:48 [TS] You see first up before this...before I went off to England, when I finished my journalism course in the New Delhi Polytechnique, it was the only course I could do because I wanted the shortest course. So this was only a year long, and I really wasn't academically very good so I just didn't want to do any more college or anything like that. But I liked journalism. I discovered that you know I was really interested in journalism. And so you know I'd gone after I'd finished that course to George Verghese in the Hindustan Times because he was in school with my father. He was in the Doon School with my father and asked him to give me a job; and he said, 'No!' and you know I then found out he said , 'you know,' he said, 'you can do sort of an apprenticeship unpaid for a few months, if you want.' But he said, 'when we hiring, we hire men because women go away and get married in the middle of the thing, so it's not worth our while.' 6:49 So it was really, there was literally Usha Rai in the Times of India, uhmmm Prabha, Barkha Dutt's mother in the Hindustan Times, Nandani Singh...I'm counting them for you literally...five or six women. There were older women journalists like Amita Malik and there was another lady called Promilla something or the other but they did movies and books but not real reporting. SO they were very reluctant to...they began to change after I joined the Statesman when I discovered actually that one of the reasons why men didn't want women reporters in the reporters' room was they refused to do night duty. 7:34 And you know, night duty meant you had to be on duty from about 4 in the afternoon till 10:30 or 11 and most women were reluctant to do this because Delhi was very, you know, you couldn't really sort of wonder about on your own and it was just a small little scary little town...hardly any lights in the streets. So we decided that we would do night duty. I'm not sure whether it was in the Statesman but I know that all the women, you know, of my generation said-no itis unfair, and we'll do it. And then they gave us cars to take us home. 8:09 So that's how it changed.
| ---On background of TS.
--TS started by writing in Slough Evening Mail in 1971—covered all as local reporters do—learning experience.
--returned to India in 1974—couldn’t find a job in journalism as a woman.
---Got a job at Statesman in 1975.
--Was TS updated on political events in India while in England?
---somewhat aware—knew of L.N. Mishra’s assassination – of Bihar Movement – of Indira’s unpopularity-student agitation in Gujarat---journalism in India at that time equated with Gracious Form of Clerkship.
---just a handful of credible newspapers in India- Statesman, Navbharat Times, Hindustan Times, Jansatta ---but not enough circulation.
---Raghu Rai’s photographs as being better than reportage.
--Newspapers reluctant to send reporters out of Delhi for coverage.
---Description of the mood of 1974JP Movement moving to Delhi- verge of Allahabad Judgement—Opposition coming together –political rallies before Emergency.
---On increasing support of JP movement but TS was not too interested in it.
--On the interview process at the Statesman.
---TS had a good portfolio and experience.
--TS did a short course at New Delhi Polytechnique—went for an interview with G. Verghese of HT for job through her father’s connection.
--He offered TS unpaid apprenticeship without any guarantee of job as they preferred to hire men---women get married and leave etc.
---Women in journalism then- Prabha Dutt (HT), Usha Rai (TOI), Nandani Singh, Amita Malik and Promilla smth but they did features and not hard political stuff because women didn’t do night duty since Delhi was unsafe.
---Women journalist of TS decided to do night dutygot office cars to take them home.
| 8:10 [FY] : So how did you reach that glass hole of getting into journalism given that other women were not reporting, you would be one of the few women who would be reporting on the cover.
8:19 [TS] : By actually doing the reporting.
8:22 [FY] : How did they know you would get...you would do the reporting? How did they accept you?
8:26 [TS] :Well you see the thing is that I think I got accepted I'm not sure why it was Nihal Singh who gave me the job. You should ask him. But I think it was because I had two and a half years of experience as reporter and I had very good training in that because you know the police fire, magistrate's court, I would still say it's the best training for any reporter because you do police for...you know...speed, you do courts for accuracy, you do because you get one thing wrong, especially that time, I'm sure even now...It was not like in India where it doesn't matter that much but you could really get into trouble if you and then you know, you had to, I had phone copy of from the court to the thing. 9:12 So I was very well trained as a reporter so I suppose I got because of that.
9:16 [FY] : So when you got into Statesman, you got into the Statesman on the 5th and the ..sorry in May and you did... Emergency was imposed on like late- June. Can you describe the period when you joined and when the Emergency was imposed?9:30 [TS] : Okay I at that point realised because all the news was political, so I became very interested in what was going on in the Allahabad Court Judgement and I started...because I was new I wanted to sort of show that I was really you know keen and etc. I remember that two of the...two or three stories that I did before the Emergency was declared which were very well received. I did a piece on hospitals in Delhi and I did it by spending a night in the Emergency Room in four or five hospitals. And seeing you know how they functioned and for me, with my foreign returned eyes I was appalled at the filth and the incompetence etc., and I wrote all that and that was very well received; and then I went to a Khumb Mela and reported on that ...not a Kumbh mela ...there was a solar eclipse in Kurukshetra and you know I heard about it and....(TS makes some sounds and expression to describe 'whatever!') So anyway, I did that kind of story but I was getting my teeth into the political story when the Emergency happened because I think the day the Allahabad court judgement I...I started going regularly...I used to live very close to Indira Gandhi's house. 10:46 So before going to the Statesman I would always go past that Safdarjung Road where there was lot of activity, where she lived; and one day I ran into Sanjay Gandhi and you know, it was a day after the judgement or the day it came and he sad, 'Oh! It's a just a stupid judgement and what a foolish thing to do for the judge,' ... because he was also three-years older than me right. So he didn't know he should keep his mouth shut. 11:13 But anyway I did a little interview and you know I was very excited and I brought it to my news-editor and they buried it. They put it on to some inside page without...nobody realised that Sanjay Gandhi was going to be so important in two weeks’ time. You know so...that's how, and then you know after...once the Emergency was declared my only interest in journalism was political.
11:46 [TS] : I was woken up by my mother who was very keen on listening to the radio early in the morning. And she said...she played for me Mrs Gandhi's...Mrs Gandhi’s speech was being played over and over again in the silly little voice. Saying in English and in Hindi, you know to save the country...to save democracy, you have suspend all democracy or words to that effect. You know I mean the speech is very interesting because basically she was trying to project herself as this great heroin who was doing this to save democracy from awful people like Jayprakash Narayan and the Opposition parties who were trying to destroy it. 12:26 So I said, 'My god' and you know I raced off to the Statesman office and there was this kind of tension because you see with journalism, on the one hand we...journalists hate censorship but it’s a love-hate relationship because the idea of defying it is so a compelling, you know, so there was this whole tension and then the decision to defy Censorship was taken by the Editor and we brought out special edition with blank spaces where the Opposition leaders' arrests were blanked out; and we tried this little defiance for a while. And I actually then continued my crusade to prove Delhi hospitals by doing individual hospitals. 13:17 The other story being like fifteen hundred (1500) words of all the hospital. This 13:20 I started the day. And I thought that would get passed in the Censors, you know. I mean it's surely nothing so political. But even that was not allowed.
13:31 [FY] : Why?
13:32 [TS] : Oh there was nothing that sounded like criticism that was allowed. There were quotes of Nehru and Tagore's that were censored. I mean there were real bulldozers sitting in that...in the Press Information Bureau and we had to submit our copy because the Statesman was then punished. And we had...every story had to go to them and come back with red lines across it and the newspapers sometimes they thought were being too defiant would come back at like 6 in the morning making it useless but it was very exciting as well as very scary because you know it could have been the end of journalism had she wanted to. 14:12 She could have carried on forever with censorship. We didn't know then that it would not last forever.
14:20 [FY] : On that day given that the pre-censorship rules had also come were there any discussions or meetings within the Statesman office or amongst the journalists?
14:30 [TS] : Oh yea..yea..yea, I don't know if you've read the Durbar (Published in 2013), I have actually described that .... ---- [FY : I have...I have seen Durbar but I haven't gone through it.] ----.... okay...there's a full description of the Emergency in that, which is better than anything I can tell you. 14:42 I remember being in the reporters' room...there was the editors, I'm not going to name any names.... ---- [FY : Yeah] ---- .... There was this Special Correspondents, Editors and they then drifted towards us as we sat in this little room with with glass walls, in a red brick building. And one of these very kind of pompous little editors came along and said, 'it is a good thing,'- Bengali of course (Ref. to: the editor being from Calcutta and a very stereotypical characterisation), 'it is a great thing that is has happened and you know she's lifted when discipline is brought into the country,' and you know I remember him getting into an argument with this guy and saying, 'what are you saying! You're actually welcoming press censorship.' I mean you know, it's like a ..like a...I don't like a butcher welcoming vegetarianism, you . This is our job and we might not lose it all 15:34 (Note: to be read as ‘we might all lose our job’). So there was a big arguments and it just went on on a daily basis and we all had our little sources, you know who would come and tell us what was going on and I had a source who worked for Piloo Mody's party, I can't remember whether it was still Swatantra Party or not then but anyway he was one of these very nondescript kind of...
| --On how TS carved a niche.
--by doing reporting
--Nihal Singh offered TS a job—Why probably because of her portfolio and foreign training was more vigilant and nuanced as they could get in trouble for wrong reportage.
--on period between May and June when Emergency was declared.
--TS became interested in Allahabad Court Judgement.
(b) solar eclipse in Kurukshetra
---TS was getting involved with the updates of Allahabad court judgement –would pass Indira Gandhi’s house to chance upon a scoop.
--the new-editor printed it somewhere innocuous not knowing the role that Sanjay Gandhi would come to play.
--ambiance on the day of declaration of Emergency.
--TS told about the declaration by her mother who heard it over the radio.
--on journalist having a love-hate relationship with censorship.
---Statesman decided to defy censorship.
--TS continued on her hospital story but this time individually—the censors did not pass it.
--nothing negative could be reported including quotes of Nehru and Tagore.
---Sometimes the Censor would return the reviewed copy sometimes post-print timeline.
--Many felt that Indira Gandhi could have carried on with the Emergency forever.
---TS on her book Durbar discussing pre-censorship rules.
---description of ambiance in the office and various reactions.
--Reporters had informantsTS’ informant worked for Piloo Mody’s party---non-descript fellow with ears everywhere.
| 15:59 [FY] : Would you like some water?
16:00 [TS] : No (to water). ...you know the kind of a guy you see a lot in party offices who nobody notices them because they're so obscure nobody knows whether they are party members or the peon or the chaiwalla, and he was always hanging around. He would get into Indira Gandhi's house and here...I mean he actually came and told me that Gujral was going to lose his job. 16:25 And then we would meet in the little coffee shops in...in Connaught Place where all these sources would bring us all this political news.. And you know, she closed down the Coffee Shop. Yeah? But that was a great hub, you know because it was wonderful because you could smell those dosas and the South Indian coffee and we would all gather there to gossip endlessly. 16:48 So she closed it down, right. So then our meetings with political leaders became a little bit more difficult. They stopped seeing us that easily. But it was a very interesting time for journalism, especially for if you were younger as I was because you really discovered who were true to the profession and who were not. You know, so the Statesman and the Indian Express fought as much as they could. But it’s the Times of India and Hindustan Times just laid down and said do whatever you want to us. 17:24 So for me that was a real learning, you know. I mean I though and you know I take really journalism very seriously as a career and believe that without media there is no democracy so to to see two major English newspapers prostitute themselves was really very shocking for us, you know. And then of course there was nothing that you could report. I remember that there was a terrible mine accidents called Chaslana in a Bihari mine and I being again you now foreign trained I said to my editor - this is just a human interest story, there's a mine in which 700 to 1000 miners are trapped. Shouldn't we be going there? - And he said, 'don't be stupid we don't do stories like that.' They didn't. The media was really pretty abysmal at that point. 18:25 So that was it so I think the Emergency really...
18:35 [TS] : I didn't want to leave India. I'd come back making a choice to come back. I didn't want to live in England. I was tired of writing about those kinds of stories about you know whether the zebra crossing should be on this part of the road or that part of the road and you know whether ...it was just so boring, I was just wasn't interested in that sort of stuff. So India was just too...and you know, it was my home and I didn't want to live in England.18:59 So I never considered that but I did consider the possibility that there would be no journalism if this carried on. You know in the end Raghu Rai and I went off to river rafting with...on the Ganga, you know those kinds of stories, you know that were the only kinds of stories we could do.
19:20 [FY] : And if you since Statesman was one of the things ...one of the papers who were defiant besides the Indian Express, in the sense initially they carried out those blank editorials but then they were asked not to carry out those blank editorials. What would you define in those periods ...in that period of time as the defiant pieces by the Statesman?19:40 [TS] : Defiance stopped very quickly. It wasn't possible. You now the Indian Express started get raided, there was ..there was...there was a real...there was almost threat of closure, you couldn't defy Mrs Gandhi, she was a dictator. 20:02 Foreign Correspondents were being thrown out on a daily basis. So you know it was, it wasn't possible really to ...so after a while you just reconciled to the fact that you couldn't do. I kept keeping notes. So I remember once I was...so that's how Durbar came about because I was on late duty one night when there was a riot in Jama Masjid, yeah. And it was pretty brutal...I think they shot people, the police etc. I think the first riot I ever covered. And I was really horrified by it and we couldn't say anything. So the next day's newspapers, there was a press release from the Government saying, like you know, a paragraph- Tension in the Old City or something like. And so you know we were reduced to press release journalism. The Statesman used to be...there used to be a guy who would come from the PIB with pictures of Sanjay Gandhi at some rally etc. and say, 'please use this on the front page.' And after Gujaral, poor thing, was kicked out and Vidya Charan Shukla came in. He called all the senior journalists together and said- Don't you dare try to defy the censorship. So we couldn't report anything even if you ran into a you know, an Opposition leader, they were all in jail but, you know, if they came back. I had friends who fathers and mothers etc were were in jail or underground but you couldn't report anything.
--TS more on the characterisation of informants.
---places where journalists would meet informants like coffee shops in CP—Indira Gandhi closed down the Coffee shop.
--Even politicians became inaccessible.
---On HT and TOI prostrating while Statesman and Express did not.
--Chaslana mine tragedy also did not get much coverage during censorship.
--Any temptation to quit journalism?
--On types of stories that TS and other journalists were forced to settle writing.
--Defiance stopped early on.
--Foreign correspondents being thrown out.
--TS kept sporadic notes.
--Riot at Jama Masjid.
--The riot reported through press release from the Government which down played it.
--entry of infamous Vidya Charan Shukla as Censor man.
--difficulty in reporting.
| 21:37 [FY] : Speaking of underground there were also a few you know pamphlets and things that were circulated on the sly within the circles. Like I believe Coomi Kappor's book covers how Virendra Singh carried something initially and then he had a, I mean, of course had a fight with...with the person who was ...but do you ..do you remember any of these underground pamphlets being circulated?
22:03 [TS] : I remember a lot of very scared CPM chaps because they were worried. They're not so brave ...these communists. You know when push comes to shove, they started burning all those pamphlets etc. But the this RSS lot was a little braver... ----[ FY : Yeah Yeah] ---... And Virendra Kapoor was with the Motherland, so was Coomi, which was an RSS paper. 22:24 So for a while they were quite brave and they were circulating all these kinds of things but the Marxists stopped very quickly. SO there was this sort of thing going around. But they were of no consequence, you know. They were mostly...there were really pamphlets that you had to hand out. There was no media as such.22:45 [FY] : Yeah, but do you remember any of these pamphlets or the content?22:48 [TS] : I can remember…I remember the that Arun Shourie wrote an article on Fascism in Seminar Magazine. Seminar closed willingly I think because they refused to …. --- [FY : disagreed with that???]--- …yea. But this...it was after this issue I think. And you know copies were made of this and we all circulated it and you know it went around and. In those coffee shops, there were many of these little pamphlets around but you couldn't tell what was true or not, huh! 23:21 So my little source is this tiny little man who'd say to me you know...Sanjay Gandhi is running the country. And I didn't know whether to believe him or not. And he said that he himself knew because he was always hanging around in the Congress Party's offices and he would observe what was going on. And it was true what he told me but it was not credible because nobody believed that it could happen. 23:48 And then Rajmata Gawlior was underground and at one point and she's staying at my parents’ house. And my mother of course, you know, didn't tell me. So I spent the whole day in old Delhi near the Gurudwara, waiting for when she was meant to make an appearance and court arrest; and she was sitting in my house, you know. It's all in Durbar. You should read that...I put a lot of that into Durbar.
24:15 [FY] : I am going to pick that up. Also since you were saying that Times of India and Hindustan as we all know did not really take up 24:21 cudgel against the government, within any newspaper or within the media...?
24:25 [TS] : A tradition that they have continued to follow as you may have noticed.24:28 [FY] : That's true I don't really read either of those newspapers. But within newspapers and within the media also there were are sympathisers in terms of Leftist, Centralist and Right-wing ...which ever ones you want to call it....just broad classifications I believe...How...what were your interactions with journalists in Hindustan Times or Times of India with...were they I mean, the journalists even though their editorial policy was not to defy the government, were journalists within those newspapers defying?
24:58 [TS] : They were very frustrated. They were very frustrated. We would meet there was not much to work. So on late duty, you know, I would go across to the Hindustan Times to see Rashmi Saxena for instance. And you know, we would know what was going on. And Rashmi Saxena and I knew each other because one of the stories I did before press censorship was - I think it was still JP was doing it -Dacoits were surrendering in ..in June near Agra, and they were big ones like , you know...I forgot their names now. There was Mansingh, I think there was one other more. Any way whoever but there were big surrender. So you now, we'd gone there, it was quite an exciting story to do for 24 you know dacoits surrenders and then we came back and all of this happened. And then when we would everyone only talked about the political situation. We knew about the extent of the repression, especially in a few months when they started this nasbandi programme because you know I used to cover Old Delhi a lot because it was the most interesting part. 26:11 There was a real political tension in the old city. And you now, I used to spend many evenings going to...there used to be a restaurant called Flora which they demolished during the Emergency, opposite the Jama Masjid...directly opposite the Jama Masjid...the steps of Jama Masjid..next to Karims. And then suddenly in these restaurant siyasi guftagu mana hai came up. So even in a restaurant, you know, I mean...you could feel because there was too much siyasi guftagu going on across the city. 26:46 So it was really very repressive time. I don't know whether the story is true or not but they say that a bandarwalla was arrested. You know, you couldn't tell because on the circle in Connaught Place the thing, he was trying to get the bandari to get up, and she wouldn't and he said, 'kya tu bhi Indira Gandhi ki tara kursi nahi chori gi!' Arrested...monkey and all..so there were light moments but it was a really very strange time.
27:16 [FY] : But what happened to that guy?
27:17 [TS] : I don't know, we don't know even....I didn't meet the monkey walla. But this was the story...ki aaj dekho kya kar diya hai is Indira Gandhi nai! Bandarwalle ko pakar ke band kar diya Tihat!' So everyone was always being arrested and put away. The journalists were arrested.
| --On underground circulation of materials.
--Not much underground circulation.
---Pamphlets of not much consequences.
--Arun Shourie wrote an article for Seminar titled ‘Fascism’, and copies were made and distributed.
--More on TS’s informant and his scoops.
Rajmata Gwalior gone underground –hiding at TS’s parents’ house and TS not aware.
--On compliance of HT and TOI.
--HT and TOI compliance still evident.
--On TS’s interactions with other journalist also from HT and TOI.
--Journalists were a frustrated lot because they couldn’t work their trade no matter how great a story. For example surrendering of Dacoits.
---surrender of Man Singh.
--Forced nasbandi (sterilisation) programme ---demolitions in Old Delhibuild-up of tensions.
--Demolition of a restaurant called Flora.
--- siyasi guftagu also curbed
---Stories on the absurdity of repression, control and excess, for example alleged arrest of a monkey entertainer on comparing the monkey with Indira Gandhi.
| 27:33 [FY] : So I was.... Old Delhi since you were saying you were covering, and I also talked to Malla Singh of Seminar... --- 27:42 [TS : She's not a journalists. She's a fraud.] ----.... she's not. Let's not say that on record.
27:46 [TS] : I will say that on record.27:48 [FY] : Okay! So
27:50 [TS] : She never did any reporting at all.
27:51 [FY] : No, she did not. No I was just talking about the Seminar. So I was asking, she....I think Javed lied at the story on how a lot of the news travelled through oral, you know, through word of mouth. Old Delhi as I said and restaurant there's always people talking to each other...lots of oral history and and quite a few people have mentioned songs around the Emergency...'jhoot bole janta kate'...things like that 28:22 --- [TS : Kawa kate] ---- no the parody was jhoot bole janta kate... --- [TS : I don't remember that] --- ...You do not remember this? Do you remember what what conversations were happening outside journalistic circles...what conversations you could hear maybe in Old Delhi...Old Delhi it's very hard...easy to overhear conversations...that's why I'm asking.
28:40 [TS] : Well you know once the Nasbandi started, all conversation was about that. because these vans would come. I saw them. And they would pick up at random. And they had kala sheeshas you know and that's what the conversation was- ies ko pakar ke legaye aur woh sola saal ka bachha tha ...Bihar se kal aya tha...usko legaye...nasbandi karke phek diya phir sarak pai. So that was the conversation. And there was, you know, tension building up. And there was this woman called Ruksana 29:15 ---- [FY : Yeah, Rukhsana Sultana ] --- Yeah she had the same hairstyle as me and she had the same glasses or something. So once I got nearly beaten up in Old Delhi because she caused a lot of trouble there because she went in...because she thought that she was...she was actually half Hindu...her father was Hindu but because her name was Rukhsana, they thought she was Muslim, so she kept going into people's homes and telling the women, you know, and she said...I don't want to dress like them, I wear chiffon and you know go into and tell them, 'that you nasbandi karwao.' you know. You can't actually go into conservative Muslim homes in the Old Delhi to this day and start advising women to go and have nasbandi. 29:59 So there was a lot of that sort of talk - Ki ji Rukhsana aye thi...yeh kaun hai Rukhsana? aur and Sanjay Gandhi...there was a lot of talk once the Emergency was declared...about what Sanjay Gandhi was doing, you know. And Jagmohan and then by the next year there was the Turkman Gate and everything. So all conversation in the whole city from the drawing rooms to the footpath was political.
30:27 [FY] : Yeah, even Jama Masjid, the clearance along the stairs, do you remember that happening?30:32 [TS] : Yeah, that's when Flora restaurant went.
30:34 [FY] : Yeah, yea, yeah
30:35 [TS] : Yes! They just arrived with the first clearance before Turkman Gate was ..he started...Jagmohan started demolishing what he called illegal structures. And this was really such a lovely little restaurant. It had air conditioning. It was ...you came out down from the steps and it was in front of you. You know where the ...it's the Urdu Bazar I think near the Zenana hospital and the Urdu Bazar and this little restaurant there. 31:06 And it got demolished. And when that happened, you know, people became very nervous because there was no ... nobody knew what was illegal or legal. It was a very old basti, you know. And in Turkman Gate what they demolished was a an old Mughal basti. It was no slum they demolished.
31:24 [FY] : Haan it was havelis within which several houses had come up. [TS agrees in the background- Yea...Yea…yea]31:31 [FY] : So this whole demolition drive… nasbandi this Sanjay Gandhi's 5-point programme essentially, how would you or your colleagues reported in the paper; and what were the 31:41 ???
31:42 [TS] : Would not be reported. It would not be reported. We could report that Indira Gandhi had her 20-point programme and that there was a meeting. You know there was a lot of Congress Party meetings. So you know you could report that, you could report this Sanjay Gandhi's 5-point programme and for instance this Mrs...Indira Gandhi had two stenographers who became very powerful at this point. One was Yashpal Kapoor who was involved in ...in the case and R. K. Dhawan. And I remember going to a rally that was being addressed by Yashpal Kapoor and his wife was there wearing diamond earrings, I was so shocked. 32:23 That you know, until then there was a certain decorum in the political class, they didn't show off and they didn't wear that sort of thing and I remember being very struck, I've never forgotten that. 32:37 This woman sitting there, you know, with her diamond earrings. And then once Sanjay Gandhi's Youth Congress people, they used to wander about...they were real thugs...closing down shops and I mean it was like a ...like you imagine that Hitler's Germany would have been.
33:00 [FY] : So if you picked up papers say somewhere between the Emergency say November in 1975, what would the first page of…what would the first page of the paper look like given that you were not allowed to report political news unless it was..?33:16 [TS] : There would be a press release...maybe Indira Gandhi's speech...or you know if Sanjay Gandhi had made a speech at some Jalsa that would be reported....it was complete press release journalism.33:31 Whatever the government gave us we reported.
| --Malla Singh of Seminar
---On what kind of conversations did TS hear around Old Delhi?
---Most conversations were around nasbandi and Rukhsana Sultana (chum of Sanjay Gandhi) entering into people’s home in Old Delhi to expound the virtues of nasbandi.
--On the nature of conversations to be heard in Old Delhi.
---Jagmohan and Turkman Gate.
---On other ‘beautification’ drives in Old Delhi.
--It was an old Mughal Basti that was demolished rather than slums at Turkman Gate.
---They were not reported.
---Wearing diamond earrings at a political rally considered as crass.
--Sanjay Gandhi’s Youth Congress were thugs.
--what kind of news one would likely to have found in November 1975?
---Press release and speeches of Gandhis.
| 33:35 [FY] : What kind of human interest stories could you carry?
33:38 [TS] : Flower shows....movies...I started to write, I can't remember person or later a column called Passing By, yea, where again you couldn't interview politicians passing by; but you know celebrities, you know...there were no celebrities in those days but it was a very dull newspaper. You got nothing ...you got no news.
34:09 [FY] : What about, I mean because people were....
34:11 [TS] : She actually admitted...Indira Gandhi...one of the few admissions that she made that she was asked by some BBC correspondent- what was the worst mistake she made? And she said I shouldn't have imposed censorship because she stopped getting feedback.
34:27 [FY] : She didn't have any idea...
34:28 [TS] : She had no idea of the anger in the ci...not just city, the country. North India was burning. There was ...because of the nasbandi programme started and this, you know, demolition drive and all that sort of business. There was real anger developing. And in Haryana I think, they beat up people and you know in the villages when they came. And yet the teachers and the people who were the officials were given these targets to meet. 34:59 Had no choice but try to meet them because otherwise they could lose their jobs.
35:03 [FY] : Did you ever talk to any of these people who were directly...35:06 [TS] : (Phone rings) Can I take this? ---- [FY : Yeah]
35:10 [FY] : So I was asking about given that the arrest kept happening and people were really release on the roll and arrested again...were you able to report any of that?
35:20 [TS] : no!
35:20 [FY] : Did you even on your own account did you manage to get ..have a conversation with these people who were in jail?
35:29 [TS] : Aaaa....no! Because you know, you met the people who were underground like I ...I ...you know because Vasundra Raje was a friend of mine. I actually met her then. I met her mother first. And you know so there was ...I didn't meet anybody from jail. No but there was a lot of information coming out because there were journalists in jail so we knew. Naveen Patnaik was also a friend of mine and his father was in jail...they were all together playing cards etc. He said they were doing quite well in the Emergency; we were having too bad a time...we seem to be having a much worse time outside jail because you know I don't think that they had a bad time. I think that the ...the repression on you know Jaipur was raided and then Rajmata Jaipur and Rajmata Gwalior were both put into the Phasi kothi...and that was later, and that we all found out later on. 36:31 But at the time what we did know was you know I can't ...yeah...it was after Turkman Gate ...Sheikh Abdullah was released...there was the Kashmir Accord...that was one of the few good things that she did in that period; and Farooq Abdullah came back but Sheikh Abdullah as soon as he was release went to where they had thrown these people from Turkman Gate in uhmmm Khichripur and Trilokpuri across the Jangpura and there was nothing, it was just a flatland with in chalk drawn out the area that they were given.37:07 And these are people who had proper homes you know, once. So he went and made a very strong speech saying, you know, that... he spoke against the Emergency and did it openly and, you know, that we weren't allowed to report. But I remember meeting Farooq Abdullah and I confirmed with him that his father had made the speech. So it was all word of mouth, you know, all the news that we got. We all knew what was going on and some wise people kept notes.
37:36 [FY] : Did you keep notes?37:36 [TS] : I kept notes.
37:38 [FY] : For everyday?
37:39 [TS] : No I didn't keep them that regularly but I've got all ...almost all my notebooks. And I...you know writing Durbar would not have been possible without that.
37:51 [FY] : What were the channels of communication from the jail...you're saying what was happening in the jail was known to you. What were the channels of communication from the jail?
37:58 [TS] : Visitors would go to meet their relations that was the main channel of communication. Political workers would go to meet their leaders and that was another channel of communication. 38:11 That was really the way the people found out what was going on inside the jails. But you know I think that the what I remember it was very difficult to distinguish or not but the...it was the lower level political workers who suffered the most. You know, I mean, they were living in very bad conditions, and it’s a very sad commentary on our political leaders that they saw what the conditions was in the jail and they've never done anything to improve them.
38:47 [FY] ; Given that there no...you said there was no...nobody was allowed criticise the government, I mean there should be no criticism of the government. How did you report something like crime or a natural disaster? Was there any natural disaster even of a small scale?
39:00 [TS] : Chasnala ..that was after the Emergency was declared as far as I remember. I think it was huge and nobody was really allowed to report. I think it was reported as in passing. Look it up and you'll find just small references to it. But it was like a thousand officially a thousand miners just killed in the ...it filled up with water...the mine. No, you could report anything.
39:26 [FY] : What about crime? I mean what about crime
39:28 [TS] : You know I mean obviously if some ...but you know in those days even a woman who was killed as a dowry death would be one paragraph- Girl dies Cooking- you know sort of saying. But you know I mean I suppose if it was a plain little murder or something...probably got reported. I don't know...I wasn't interested in crime reporting. But I think crime reporting didn't have a problem.
39:52 [FY] : Crime reporting had no problem. 39:55 So one part of the newspaper would be obviously text, the other part is photographs. How was the country being visually represented? I mean I remember Raghu Rai's photographs is something you have mentioned, I think...Life Goes on in Chandani Chowk, you said in Durbar- Life Goes on in Chandani Chowk as usual. He took that photograph and there were lots of policemen around. So ..
40:16 [TS] : Ya he did better than us because you see, you could either take a picture that looked quite innocent opposite Jama Masjid and there are ...there was maybe a ...I think that got into the papers by accident...where the...the...they did some shoot in the riot that I was talking about and the...you know how they draw the thing in chalk where the body falls...and there were policemen standing around, you know, smoking over there. 40:43 And I think he got a picture of that into the Statesman. He did better than the reporters. He could get in quite a lot of stuff. You know slyly. 40:52 [FY] But otherwise what was the...what was the visual representation in the papers? How was the country being represented?40:59 [TS] : There were lots of pictures of Indira Gandhi...lots of pictures of Sanjay Gandhi...lots of pictures of whoever came to visit her, you know would go to see her, and if she went to somewhere.....Wherever she went there would be this whole DAVP type pictures (Ref. : Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity) that we printed, you know. Rallies really...all her little rallies.
| What kind of human stories got written?
--Indira Gandhi admitted that censorship was a mistake.
---…because she had no idea of the real extent of anger that people felt towards her Emergency conditions.
--Did TS report on the arrests being made? NO.
--Did TS speak to people in jail?
---Didn’t meet in jail.
--On what the arrested people do while in jail.
--- Rajmata Jaipur and Rajmata Gwalior were both put into the Phasi kothi.
--- On release of Sheikh Abdullah and Kashmir Accord and visited Khichripur and Trilokpuri where people from Turkman Gate were resettled---gave Anti-Emergency speech.
---But the speech was not reported.
--If TS kept notes.
--How did the arrested communicated with the outside world? ---Through visiting family members but mainly lower level political workers who incidentally also suffered the most.
--Odd that though many leaders spent time in jail, they did not do anything to improve the conditions.
--Whether natural disasters were allowed to be reported?
---There weren’t any natural disasters but the Chasnala mine tragedy was made a footnote.
---subtly for example, dowry death reported as girl died while cooking.
---On the visuality of the newspaper reportage—Reference to Raghu Rai’s Life Goes on in Chandani Chowk.
---In TS’s opinion Raghu Rai fared better because of his medium.
---On the representation of the country in the papers?
---With pictures of Gandhis and travels of Mrs Indira Gandhi.
| 41:24 [FY] : And was it same before the Emergency or and after?
41:28 [TS] : No no no...the newspapers....if you look at this book that Raghu Rai has done on the Bihar Movement, you'll see how much reporting there was of the JP Movement, of the student agitations, of...you know it was a very lively press before with this kind of reporting....not very imaginative reporting not the kind of reporting that you see today at all. But at least they got reported.
41:57 [FY] : Things like George Fernandes on the run for instance....
42:01 [TS] : Forget it! No way but before that there was that huge railway strike which got massive reporting in... in...the national media. So all of that had stopped. 42:16 [FY] : And apart from, you know, Statesman and Indian Express, were the heroes of the Emergency but were there other vernacular newspapers or smaller things that were doing something locally that you think was relevant ?
42:31 [TS] : I am sure that there were but I don't know about it because you know as I said to you it wasn't like as it is now, where you just...you just go to the spot to report. In those days they didn't like that. They had stringers. Every newspaper in Delhi had stringers. You're not going to believe this but right upto the when Bhindranwale (Ref.: Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the leader of the Damdami Taksal) started his movement, Punjab was being reported by stringers. 42:56 So I remember coming back from England in '82 or whatever after my son was born and everything and I said - why has nobody interviewed him? And they said- Oh he's very scary and you know...blah blah blah. And I said - Why aren't you sending somebody from here? I had to beg my News Chief. I said, 'look I'm a sikh and I'd be able to speak to him at least. He doesn't speak any language except Punjabi.' That's how you know how....then once one newspaper- The Telegraph did the best reporting of Punjab and Kashmir actually when the ...when the trouble started but Punjab at that point was being reported by local stringers. 43:36 And most of India was reported that way. Then were very small little local newspapers like maybe them but you didn't have Dainik Jagaran and Dainik Bhaskar and none of that existed.
43:51 [FY] : Sorry since you said interview and I forget to ask this of you before...the Sanjay Gandhi interview, the accidental interview that you did ...what did that...what was that interview about and what did he say?
44:00 [TS] : I just asked him...he was out there...they were planning for the supporters to come and meet Mrs Gandhi on the roundabout and it was a five-minute interview. And I said, 'what did you think of judgement?'- And he said, 'it's a stupid judgement.' 44:15 So I said, 'so what is Mrs Gandhi going to do then? Is she going to accept it? Is she going to resign because the order was that she had to resign for six years.' And he said, 'of course not' or something like that...I've been looking for that interview by the way but it was so buried in the paper that it doesn't exist, you know. I mean if it does then I have to go through a lot of uhmm but it was just that sort of stuff. But he's didn't say they were going to defy the ...the order...the judgement. 44:4645:18 Nor did he indicate that there was going to be declaration of Emergency. I don't think he had anything to do with it. So at that point...this is the 12th...12th of June and he didn't say much about anything other than that it was a stupid judgement. Wow!
45:07 [FY]: All right, so towards the...you know towards the closing of the Emergency was there any anticipation at all amongst the journalists that it would be coming to an end?
45:18 [TS] : No and again ...you must read Durbar. I've actually described what happened. It was very rainy kind of day when they...they...these guys were released at...We were in the Kumbh Mela...the whole lot of us...every major newspaper editor not editor but every journalist...Raghu Rai included, you know, other than Kuldip Nayar who was here, the rest of us were at the Kumbh Mela...Mark Tully, foreign correspondents etc. we were all in Allahabad. And this rumour started to spread on the 19th of December or something like that ...18th or 19th? which is the last day of the Kumbh, you know all were rushing into the river and then they rushed off out of the city. And so this rumour started spread that Indira Gandhi was coming and that she was going to announce elections. 46:08 And Kuldip had apparently already done a story saying -elections going to be announced. So we were all you know ready for ...for the announcement ...what we didn't realise was what was going to happen after that because once she made her announcement, it was raining and freezing cold, we all went to the...to try to get a train to Delhi and it was impossible. There were eight of us, we got into a coupe. We finally managed to get in there....there was a stampede. And people with lathis trying to break the train before we left. 46:41 So you know that's when we first heard that there were going to be elections. Then when the...Kamal Nath told me later that he and Sanjay were actually in Kashmir when she made this announcement. And that Sanjay was very upset because he said- you can either have an Emergency or you can have elections. So it's much better to lift the Emergency and then have elections. And he's right...that's what she should have done.47:09 But anyway what she did was I think that the intelligence reports she was given were so misleading, you know, the intelligence was so misleading...you know either the intelligence was so scared of her that they indicated to her that she was still very popular. 47:21 And you know, she was such a giant figure in the Indian imagination that nobody thought she could be unpopular. So every...she must have thought even more than anyone else that she would ride this through. And when the elections...so the Opposition leaders were released shortly after this, I think in the first week of January or the second and they barely, you know got their act together when they decided they will have this first rally in the Ramlila Maidan where Vajpayee made this, you know, kooli hawa mein saas to le speech. And it was when he ...actually it was so boring those leaders that even when the most of the speeches were going on most of us in the press enclosure were saying- they are this lot...peasants...nobody is going to vote for them. They were so dull. I mean they'd just come out of jail, you would have thought that they would have something you know magnetic ...magical to say. Nothing! And I was actually going to leave when one of these guys who knew Vajpayee, you know, I had never heard him speak before, he knew he was such a good speaker he said, 'mat jaao. He said, 'Atal ji ke liye sara crowd jitna tum dekh rahi ho, yeh sab Jan Sangh ka hai.' And then, you know, he stood up there, you know, like an actor, you know liket thsi with his eyes closed, and you know, what was it?--- baad muddat ke mile hain diwane...' and then the crowd went mad....mad, you know. They stood up and started cheering and then you know he made this incredible speech, where, you know just the sher was the beginning of it- "Baad muddat ke mile hain deewane, Kehne sunne ko bahut hain afsaane, Khuli hawa me saans to le lein, Kab tak rahe azaadi kaun jaane." Then he made the speech about, you know 'hum bhi mante hain ki abadi bahut bar gaye hai eska alaj humko dundna chahiya lekin janwaro ki tehra trucko mein bhar bhar ke nasbandi nahi ki ja sakti hai insano ki.' Wonderful speech...really one of the best speeches he's ever made. 49:36 At the end of the event, it was raining and cold...this is January in Delhi in last week or so, I think it was 29 of January. I'm not sure. Any way then they started these party workers BJP mostly just Jan Sangh Party workers holding out these sheets, and not one person left without giving something. 49:57 And then we realised that there was something going that we hadn't noticed, you know...that's how it had happened.
--Pre-Emergency reporting was dynamic and extensive for its time.
--No report of George Fernandes on the run.
--On vernacular reportage.
--TS not conversant with the vernacular reportage at the time.
---TS found on her return to India that people were afraid to interview Bhindranwale.
---Disturbances in Punjab being reported through stringers.
--On TS’s interview of Sanjay Gandhi.
---Sanjay Gandhi called the judgement stupid and that Indira was not going to resign.
---Sanjay didn’t indicate that Emergency was going to be declared.
--On journalists’ anticipation towards the end of Emergency.
---Most journalists were in Kumbh Mela when the rumours of the news that Indira Gandhi will announce elections ---so all rushed back with much difficulty.
---Kuldip Nayar ahead in reporting about the imminent elections.
---But nobody expected Gandhis’ to lose.
---Sanjay Gandhi was unaware that Indira Gandhi was going to announce elections.
---Indira Gandhi didn’t know the people’s anger towards her her people too scared to tell her.
---TS on the rallies preceding the elections and post-release of the Opposition leaders.
---TS on the magic of Vajpayee’s speech and the resonance it had for the people.
---On people actually actively engaging in the speeches.
| 50:04 [FY] : And JP also gave his speech, I think somewhere around.
50:07 [TS] : JP was not at this rally. He is...there was Morarji, there was ...there was the others...not even Jagjivan Ram. Jagjivan Ram didn't leave till a few days after this...clever man, he waited for ..to see but believe me ...you may believe it or not there was not a single senior journalist in Delhi who believed that Mrs Gandhi could lose. 50:33 Not until election day. And you know, we would come back ...and I know we didn't travel, I was still covering Jama Masjid but Raghu Rai and I went that morning to the Jama Masjid and there was a queues huge queues and they said, 'dekho hum kisko dei rahe hain- Jai nasbandi, jai bulldozer, yeh lo!' you know. 50:54 Unbelievable by then of course the imam of Jama Masjid had stood with the leader of the RSS on the steps of the Jama Masjid and said ke hum falana hum enko haraenge manzoor hai.' And everybody was going 'manzoor hai, you know,...so it was all very melodramatic by the end of it but nobody believed she would lose.
51:15 [FY] : Yea I believe that V. C. Shukla also slated the release of ..I mean the screening of Bobby on television the day Jagjivan Ram ????
51:23 [TS] : Yea, Indira Gandhi did that. ..yea...yea...not Jagjivan Ram that rally I'm talking about ...the Ramlila Maidan rally ...that was another thing we heard- Oh god she's going to show Bobby and you know nobody will come, everyone's going to stay at home and blah blah...it was a Sunday.---- [FY: Okay] --- 51:41 That was the rally.
51:42 [FY] : That was the rally. Did you attend any of the other rallies?51:45 [TS] : I attended the one where Jagjivan Ram made his announcement...that was in the boat club. And there was Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and Jagjivan Ram and Vajpayee again...again full of sher …sher shayari. He ...they broke the stage down. They said, you can't build a stage on the boat club, so he said, 'yeh dekhiye ki hamne intezam jo kiya tha enhone kya kiya hai...Khandar bata rahe hain...imarat buland thi!' (trans.: Look at the arrangements we had made…what have they done to it…run-down state is indicative of ….foundation was strong.) So again you know he ...he was mesmerizing. It was his finest hour. 52:21 those first days after the Emergency was over.
52:25 [FY] : So this was still when the Emergency was on when the election was declared. Were you able to report these rallies?
52:29 [TS] : The Emergency was not lifted until the end of March.
52:31 [FY] : Yeah, so were you able to report these and how were these rallies reported?
52:35 [TS] : Oh! These ...you see...I don't think we were...we could report a speech or two. I think press censorship was lifted. Yea, these got reported. I am not sure though.
52:50 [FY] : The censorship was not lifted that I know for a fact but I think people were taking chances.
52:55 [TS] : I think so. Certainly the Boat Club Rally and Jagjivan Ram's resignation and all that was reported and Vijay Laxmi Pandit's speeches were reported. Look up the papers, you'll see. I'm not absolutely sure.
53:08 [FY] : What about Indira Gandhi's rallies?
53:12 [TS] : You know they could collect crowd and they would bring big buses full of...again she got fooled as did every senior editor in this town thinking that she would still manage to pull it off. 53:27 So because you know, there were lots of people at her rallies.
53:31 [FY] : So once the election was declared were journalists taking any risks? Were you personally able to report things that you were not being able to report until now?
53:39 [TS] : Raghu Rai's picture, the famous picture...voting day ...you know of the guy putting in (Ref: Photograph taken by Raghu Rai of a rag picker in Old Delhi putting Indira Gandhi's poster in his garbage bag, which was published by the Statesman once the election results were clear), you know he said to me, on the wall was a nasbandi slogan- hum do hamar ek... (trans.: We two, one of ours) ---[FY : Hamare do] (trans.: Two of us.) --- ...become ek (trans.: became ‘one’ by the end of it.) by the end of it. Hum do hamara ek. ...The picture exists and there was this and he, I was...,yaar mein file karna hai.' (Trans.: Friend I have to file this.) He said, 'ruko ruko ruko, and he waited for him to put a poster of Indira Gandhi, which he'd seen lying there into that thing...so garibi nahi hati, garib woh poster daal raha Indira Gandhi ka kure ke thele mein aur piche nasbandi ka slogan saath mein hai.' (Trans.: Stop! Stop! Stop! ….so she didn’t alleviate/remove poverty, that poor man is putting a poster of Indira Gandhi in his rag-pack and behind is the slogan of sterilisation) 54:24 Very powerful picture...very powerful picture.
54:28 [FY] But Raghu Rai said that Kuldip Nayar refused to publish it for a ...54:32 [TS] : Yes, he had a fight with him. He threatened to leave if Kuldip Nayar didn't publish it. It came out later...yeah that's right.
54:44 [FY] : So what about other reporting? How did ...I mean was there sort of euphoria or they were like 'acha she'll come back and it'll be the same again.'
54:53 [TS] : Once the ...it was clear that even she'd lost her seat, you know, I mean, there was dancing in the streets of Delhi. There was everyone was on Bahadur Shah...the whole city was on Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and watching the Times of India saying because there was no television, right? And I mean there was only Doordarshan, where are they going to report any of this? 55:13 And there was cheering...it was about 4 or 5 in the morning I think that when we got home, you know. It was ...it was...it was... a very exciting political time.
55:24 [FY] : How did you celebrate? 55:26 [TS] : I am telling you we were all in Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and we were ...there was a whole group of us journalists, you know. We didn't, I got home about 6 in the morning, my mother was having a fit...Indira Gandhi's lost.
55:41 [FY] : You know it's a right after the you know once the new government had been sworn in and Morarji Desai was the Prime Minister...This is had been a major era so to speak in journalism in terms of you know fearing that you would not have free journalism at all. What changed after the new government came in? Did you just go back to the previous era? What...what remained of the new, you know, shenanigans that had been put into operation?
56:12 [TS] : The Time of India, and the Hindustan Times have remained establishment papers to put it mildly....nothing changed for them. The Statesman has kind of disappeared. And the Indian Express has continued to be a rebellious strong paper but you see the ..the...the interesting about it was that you know when journalists went to Morarji Desai or George Fernandes, I can't remember who'd called, and said -what are you going to do to the industrialists who backed Mrs. Gandhi during the Emergency? 56:46 He said, 'what should I do to media people who did that? So I'll give you the same punishment then'. So I mean, it was a very shameful period in Indian journalism 56:56 because really you know the whole point about journalism is to try and tell the truth of what you're seeing because it's meant to be the first draft of history. 57:07 And if you look at that Emergency period, if you look at the reporting there's nothing...there's no draft. All the...Coomi's book has come out now...it's forty years on. I wrote Durbar three years ago until then even the books didn't come. George Verghese wrote his, you know, biography. You should read that if you haven't. His autobiography in which he talks it...what happened then in the Hindustan Times. But journalism really changed in India when for a start M. J. Akbar...I mean he's not my best friend but we have to give him credit for this. When the magazines started you know India Today started during the Emergency but it didn't do any...it couldn't do any reporting really. And I remember memorably Chand Joshi did I think the first real analysis of the Emergency and the title which I love that thing from the Alice in Wonderland- “the time has come to talk of cabbages and kings”, you know. He had that on the top and then the whole account and then accounts of torture, accounts of prisoners, everything started to come out. 58:27 And then Akbar in Sunday Magazine did some really deep you know analysis of what had happened and then when the Telegraph newspaper began, with him as the editor, it was a very vibrant paper. And this is before television took off, you know, because television only really took off in the early '90s. I'm talking about '82. I came back and I was working for the...and he started to use all his most ...his best reporters, his best correspondents, to cover real stories, you know. I was covering Punjab and Kashmir, Anita Prasad was covering Sri Lanka, we went out every time there was a riot. We actually went there and didn't leave it in the hands of a stringer, right 59:15And so that's when print journalism began to change was when they started to compete with the Telegraph, because once the Telegraph started doing this, everybody else did.
| ---On speeches by other Opposition leaders.
---Imam of Jama Masgid stood with the RSS leader to show election supportindication of angers towards Congress.
---Deliberate screening of a movie Bobby at the time of Opposition speech planned by Indira.
---More on Speeches by Jagjivan Ram, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit.
---- The punch lines of the speeches.
----Journalists could report on a handful of speeches.
----On Jagjivan Ram’s rally at the Boat Club.
---Indira believed that high attendance at her rallies indicative of her imminent victory.
---On journalists taking risks post-Emergence.
---Reference to Raghu Rai’s photo of garbage man stuffing his bag with Indira related posters.
---Tussle between Kuldip Nayar and Raghu Ram over printing of the image.
----Once Indira’s defeat was in sight, there were celebrations at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg.
---More on celebrations.
---On Morarji Desai swearing in as PM.
---On the post-Elections tone adopted by Morarji Desai.
--Emergency period as being a shameful episode for Indian journalism.
--Reference to even writings on the Emergency being written only in recent years- Coomi Kapoor’s book The Emergency: A Personal History (2015), and TS’ Durbar (2012).
--Biography of B.G. Verghese on HT.
--Chand Joshi as doing the first real analysis of Emergency.
---Under Akbar Telegraph became a vibrant paper.
--T.V. took off in the early 1990s.
----TS covered Punjab and Kashmir; Anita Prasad covered Sri Lanka.
--Telegraph became a challenger in newspaper circuit.
| 59:26 [FY] : So you're saying like post-the Emergency journalism actually improved because you realised you had to be more vibrant?
59:31 [TS] : It actually continued as usual in the same sleepy you know clerical fashion until the Telegraph came. And you know then I can't remember when Dainik Jagaran and Dainik Bhaskar you know they became so big. But you know they're the two biggest newspapers in the world now...readership wise. And I write in Amar Ujala which is number four. And it still has readership of I think three crores. So its huge now Hindi journalism is really really huge and all those big, you know, I'm not sure whether the big ...like say Anand Bazar Patrika, I don't know what they were reporting. And because that was already a very big paper. It was the biggest paper at that point. And then Malayala Manorama and yeah and those newspapers were doing. I don't know what they were doing but I imagine that there was no real stories coming out.
60:27 [FY] : Yeah I mean, I mean when we talk of the Emergency the vernacular newspapers are never spoken of, which why were...
60:58 [FY] : They’re always dilly dallying between 'should we say this or maybe this'.61:01 [TS] : The Times of India has now become the Rhymes of India, you know…with all those catchy little headlines, you know...alliterations and all that sort of business, you know. 61:10 [FY] : So what was your first story that you did after the results of the elections were declared?
61:16 [TS] : You know, for a start the old....I did the Turkman Gate, yeah. On the anniversary of the Turkman Gate is I think 19th of April and the elections and all that were over by March and so I remember going back there and meeting people, who'd, you know, people who would been in....lost relatives at that...in that thing. So I actually that continued to be my beat...Old Delhi. And it was full of stories. So all of those stories that we couldn't report during the Emergency, were that..., you know, we started doing them.
61:55 [FY] : What kind of stories emerged ?
61:57 [TS] : Of...you know...what called the excess of the Emergency. The people who'd been affected by nasbandi, people who'd been affected with the ...what was it called ...resettlement programme, yeah. ---- [FY : Beautification] ---- ...yeah beautification. Resettlement....it was called resettlement. And so a lot of that sort of stuff really was what I did.
62:22 [FY] : Okay so we've covered pretty much everything except Sanjay Gandhi who inevitably crops up in all conversations about the Emergency. Apart from your small interview that you did. Was there any reporting about Sanjay Gandhi? What...what was the reporting about the Maruti project for instance?
62:38 [TS] : Nothing! Zero! There was reporting before. But, you know, I mean after...after the Emergency then I think a lot of people did stories on Maruti after the Emergency was lifted. There was a lot of reporting on Sanjay's own excesses and Maneka Gandhi ...because Maneka Gandhi during the Emergency was quite little dictator herself. She would walk into newspaper office's and order people around. 63:12 So all of that started to come out. I remember the Statesman...this cheque arrived, it was obviously a fake but god knows why we decided to publish it but you know when it came they showed it to me...it was a...for...you know, somebody like in a Swiss bank account putting a million dollars, I've forgotten the amount. 63:32 And I actually rang her being a good well trained British trained reporter to get her view on this cheque because this story had to be checked out. And my editor was a man called Mr Sahay had a fit and said, 'you're trying to warn the family that we have this cheque.' I said, 'no, I was just trying to get...' And when it didn't appear...Maneka started spreading poison against me and saying, you know, 'look at her, she didn't have the courage to write what I told her.' Oh god! 64:02 So she continued in her dictatorial ways.
64:05 [FY] : She was ...she was also running a magazine called Surya at that point of time. What was that covering?64:09 [TS] : Well I think that it became really famous for the fact that she published those pictures of Jagjivan Ram's son and his girlfriend, you know.
64:19 [FY] : So crass!
64:19 [TS] : Yeah, no...no...no it was porn. It was porn and hasn't survived for that reason.
64:28 [TS] : I did but not ....not on a daily basis...not on a daily basis.
64:34 [FY] : But what do you remember of the Shah Commission and its supporters?
64:36 [TS] : I remember that ...that...that they were all summoned there, you know. I remember going once one Rukhsana and Sanjay were going there. You know I went for those kind of moments when they went. 64:48 And actually that's one of the great flaws of the Indian journalism that we didn't report adequately the importance of the Shah Commission because had the Shah Commis...you know had Charan Singh not started arresting Indira Gandhi, and allowed the Shah Commission to do its job, we might have had...we would have had administrative reform right from the Shah Commission 65:11 because he asked all the right questions and you know produced his report, which was quite dense, and unreadable but you know it is an important document.
65:24 [FY] : Haan but then she disbanded it once she came back to power. Okay so I've asked all my questions. Is there something that you want to say about the Emergency that I've missed out on?65:30 [TS] : No, I can't think of anything except read Durbar.
65:34 [FY] : I will absolutely. I've ordered it, it just hasn't come yet. I just returned...
| --On changes in journalism post-Emergency.
--Doesn’t remember when Dainik Jagaran and Dainik Bhaskar became big.
---Malayala Manorama no real stories coming from it.
--On vernacular newspapers.
---In TS’s opinion, they didn’t really exist except for Jansatta.
---On the language of TOI reportage.
---TS continued to do her beat in Old Delhi in post-Emergency as it was full of stories.
---Stories on the excesses of the Emergency-nasbandi, resettlement etc.
---On reportage of Sanjay Gandhi and Maurti Project etc.
--Many did stories on Maruti project once Emergency was lifted as well as excesses of Maneka Gandhi.
--Incident of a cheque with large amount of money from a Swiss account in Maneka Gandhis’ name came to Statesman’s officeTS called to verify---got rebuked by S. Sahay, the editor for altering the Gandhis’---TS did not print Maneka’s comment so the latter bad mouthed TS.
---On Maneka’s magazine called Surya.
--On TS covering Shah Commission.
---TS went when Sanjay Gandhi and Rukhsana Sultana went.