INTERVIEWEE* Name: Sanjoy Hazarika [SH]
- Occupation: Journalist
INTERVIEWER* Kai Friese [Kai]
Medium: Audio recordings* Format: Audio .wav
- Language: English with a few Hindi exclamations
- Location of Interview: Residence, Press Enclave, Saket
- Date of the interview: 20 February 2016 11:40:22
Clip name/DURATION: * Kf_SHazarika_raw.WAV
- Length 00:48:24
- Bit rate: 1411kbps
- Size: 488 MB
- Date modified: 20/02/2016
| 0:02 Interview with Sanjoy Hazarika on 20th February 2016 at his residence in Press Enclave, Saket. Sanjoy if you can tell me first how you entered the field of journalism and
0:19 [SH] Well I ...actually after school I went to England, I studied there. One of the things I did there was a course in journalism, course in printing in London. And I started writing, you know, very occasionally for local papers in England...small, you know
0:45[Kai] : This was when?
0:46 [SH] '72. I was very young. Then came back and one of the offers was to work with Rajmohan Gandhi at that time, and basically help bring out Himmat. So (SH talks to someone in the house about turning off the tap)
1:18[Kai] And Himmat was being published out of...?
1:20 [SH] : Bombay. I was living in Bombay. And it was a small team- Kalpana Sharma, Rusi Lala (Note: R. M. Lala) was the editor, Founding Editor, then Kalpana took over from him. 1:37 Shahnaz Anklesaria (Aiyar) was there. Anklesaria ...she was there. Hmmm there was Vins...Vijay Seth, the cartoonist. So it was small team...couple of others...David Davidar also came ----- [Kai in the background: Oh really!] ---- later. So it was this group essentially who put the paper together. And it was fairly anti-establishment, you know, we covered the Assam Movement much later very strongly. 2:15 And at that time I was in-charge of writing, I mean… there was a page called Briefly Speaking in which basically you...satirical you know...made fun of people in a nice way but sharply...about things they said, events which had happened and so on. And I was ??? 2:41 .And I used to do a lot of the copy-editing, deal with reporters who were sending in copy and stuff like that. I was an Assistant- Editor, basically. And it was a great high, you know because you used to put the paper to bed in Fountain (Note: Fountain was where the presses were located) and then see it come out and so on.3:08 And then the Emergency came when we saw the ??? march of that sort of thing coming up. And when it was declared we had choice - whether we would sort of follow the dikats of the government or sort of try and defy the system.
3:59 [SH] : Well I think Himmat was a fairly well known small feisty magazine that Opinion... I mean it was much bigger...it had circulation of about 10,000 or something, so it was fairly...in those days it was fairly substantial. 4:13 And we got a note, I think...it was from the Censor, Chief Censor chap called Binod Rao, (Note: he was a former resident editor of Indian Express) who was actually a Principal Information Officer Kulado retired and sent to sit in 4:31 Sachivalaya. And saying that essentially you have to... we started publishing without caring for the censorship regulation, then we got to know of the saying that - you have bring yourself, and we chose what to take and what not to take.
4:49[Kai] : And where were...where were...where did the Censor sit?
4:53 [SH] : In Sachivalaya in Bombay. So it my task ... initially I think Kalpana used to go but then I went...many ..many times. And you'd see him, you thing quite innocuous...he'd just literally put the blue pen through it- 'this won't do Sanjoy, you know'. I kept listening...watching. 5:27 But then there came a point when we decided - enough was enough- we would not show anything to the censor. 5:38 Because I'm trying to compose this within our own experience so... 5:46 And then they put pressure on the press- Janmabhoomi Press in Fountain saying that - 'you have to stop publishing these guys otherwise there'll be difficulties for you.' So we were told to, you know, that we're no longer welcome at Janmabhoomi...so we had to find another press. So that was basically the strategy to throttle us by ensuring that we could not publish; and 6:21 when we find another publisher...again the same thing happened. So finally we decided to raise money for our own press. That's how we managed. You know we raised the money --- 6:33 [Kai" Yeah? What kind of ....] ---- ...letterpress --- [Kai: letterpress] --- ...yea yea. And you know good old letterpress. --- [Kai : How lovely! And you had some training in this yourself? ] ---- I had some knowledge of it but then there was a time when I left and came to Delhi. 6:52 I think it was a year and a half after the Emergency. So after that I was not really...I mean I kept writing for Himmat so on ...basically what was happening over here. And the time came when I joined the Hindustan Times as a sub-editor...junior...the lowliest of the lot.
7:19 [Kai] : Was this ... Verghese's time? (Note: Boobli George Verghese) or that Karlekar (Note: Hiranmay Karlekar) was there?
7:22 [SH] : No...no Karlekar was there. Karlekar of course was too establishment.
7:31 [Kai] : Related to Siddhartha Shankar Ray, people say .
7:35 [SH] : I don't know about the relation but certainly he was very Congress, he talked about being a Leftist but he was very Congress in his conversations.
| ---SH’s background
---studied in England and took course in journalism and printings – wrote articles in local papers in England. 1972.
---Return to India ---job at Himmat with Rajmohan Gandhi.
---published out of Bombay – Kalpana Sharma, Rusi Lala as the Founding Editor, ???, Vins or Vijay Seth, David Davidar.
---Nature of Himmat—fairly anti-establishment---Assam Movement. Briefly Speaking a satirical section.
SH’s profile- copy-editing, deal with reporters, Assistant Editor.
---Imposition of Emergency – Himmat team left with two choices – to follow censors’ or to defy.
---How was Himmant approached by the Censors?
--Himmant with circulation of 10,000 fairly well know --- received a note from Binod Rao.
---Himman published without heeding to the Censors until told that someone from the team would have to bring in the material for checking. –Himmat defied ---took material selectively.
---Censors’ office at Sachivalaya.
--description of Censors’ checking material.
---Himmat chose to outright defy and publish whatever they wanted.
--Himmat finally raised money to buy a letterpress.
--SH’s move to Delhi to join Hindustan Times a year and a half after the Emergency--- for personal reasons.
---B. G. Verghese not there but Hiranmay Karlekar and on later’s close connection with
Siddharth Shankar Ray
| 7:46 [Kai] : That was quite a change from Himmat to HT.
7:49  No! But I went partly because I needed to start a professional career, you know. My mother was alone, my brother had just started ...he was not working, he's still studying and in Medical College in Guwahati. And my father had passed away some years before that. So I had to make some very difficult choices at that time. 8:21 And I felt at least that there wouldn't be any pressure on my mother if I was earning something or the other. Friends said we can stay with us so ... so it was good. And then ...what I do recall of the ...because once I came to Delhi I joined the Hindustan Times... I think it was December or January...December '76 or January '77...within a month Mrs Gandhi announced elections.
9:01 [Kai] : Okay you came at that time.
9:02 [SH] : So in a way it was a fortuitous timing and I was able to see a lot of the…travel a lot and see a lot of the...electioneering...I was there at the meeting when JP came out and first spoke...first meeting when Moraji Desai spoke after being released, Jagjivan Ram and Vajpayee...what's his name Bahuguna 9:31 The atmosphere was really electric. I mean it was something quite unbelievable...very powerful. 9:40 Of course there's been nothing like that since, you know. I mean even Anna Hazare and all that was really nothing in comparison. And you realised how ...what Advani (Ref.: L. K. Advani) said at that time…I'm sure you'd be seeing it- 'that when journalists were asked to 10:01 they kneeled and decided to crawl'. Because it was so...you know how the main papers behaved, how the journalists were sort of hanging around...because my uncle was a president of the Congress Party. I was staying with him part of the time. And it was very...I mean...very visible to... 10:25 [SH talks to somebody in the background: Unko boleye adhe gante ke baad ana- Tell them to come after half an hour]. 10:36 How they were sort of...how desperately they were trying to curry favour...very senior journalists coming into the house and you know...making sure that the things were okay with them and so on. And another...another thing which was... ----11:03 [Kai : Care to say names or you don't want to go there?] --- No… no --- 11:07 [Kai : okay, don’t want to talk about it….I’m satisfied.] ---- Some of them have died, you know...one or two are still alive. Verghese wasn't certainly one of them. In fact, I remember meeting Verghese when the Emergency was still on and he was then I think a consultant with AVARD (Note: Association for Voluntary Agencies for Rural Development) ...You know the Gandhi Peace Foundation; and he had an office in Scindia House...small office in Scindia House.
11:40 [SH] : Yea, so ...I went to meet him and he was late for some reason. I couldn't ...I didn't now...no mobile phones at that time so you couldn't connect. When he came his hands were all stained with, you know, grease. He said, 'I hd a car breakdown.' So my first meeting with Verghese was like that, you know. He talked about those...he didn't talk too much about it but he just said that it was not something he quite expected. First the this this dismissal from the Hindustan Times because of his position on Sikkim and then the way the press sort of caved in after the Emergency and the way people were constantly hounding other, you know like him, the Gandhi Peace Foundation because that was one place where a lot of people come and hang out and stay and move on. 12:44 But I think that another of the more abiding impressions of that time is how how ...you had younger people who were very keen to do things but were quite afraid of doing anything, you know. In the ... in the business of journalism. Because nobody knew what the...I mean there were certain limits...it's like this government, you know...you don't know quite where you stand with these people because something that is legal and constitutional is interpreted as anti-national and at that time ... if you're not with the Congress...you're virtually the enemy of the state.
---personal account was SH joined HT even though it was markedly different from Himmat.—financial stability.
---Announcement of elections.
--SH got to see a lot while election campaigning was going around –heard JP, Moraji Desai, Jagjivan Ram, Vajpayee, Bahuguna.
---Even enthusiasm of Anna Hazare’s cannot compare with that of the above mentioned.
---On the position of journalist who tried to stay within the confines of Censors.
--exceptions to those currying favour- B. G. Verghese & some details on SH’s meeting with Verghese.
---details of meeting of SH with Verghese –Verghese dismissed from HT due to his stance on Sikkim, and latter’s views on the treatment of people during the Emergency.
----Young people wanted to defy but knew very little on how to --- feeling of mutual distrust- legal and constitutional rights did not mean much.
13:45 [Kai] : Yeah...Anti-Indira --- Anti- India. But what was, I mean...could you give me some sense of the mood among journalists in HT. I've spoken to some who were young at that time and said, you know, it was terribly depressing and they had a sense of embarrassment and shame even compared to... because you know...other newspapers being...
---On feelings of depression and embarrassment by the journalists who couldn’t do much.
| 14:02 [SH] : I joined at a time when things actually picked up, you know. ---- [Kai : Right! You joined just when it was getting easier] ---- ... just before the announcement of elections. When I went in, it was really as in ...people glum, they were, you know, not interested in what they were doing. There would be, you know, jokes cracked about Mrs Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi and all that but it would be sort of on one on one. You wouldn't, you know, many of us if you're in a group, you know, you talk about things in the group; here it wasn't like that. 14:40 So I think that conversation...normal conversation took a beating during the Emergency because ---- [Kai: People were scared] ---nobody was quite...quite sure who you would...where it would go to if you talked something against the government...is one. The other thing is that a lot a people were also listening to the BBC and the Voice of America. I mean those were the only two stations that were really accessible. 15:23 And that's when I think Mark Tully during the Emergency became, not just during Blue Star and all that, but really during the Emergency, the BBC at least 15:33 ??? became a major ... major...major pillar. In fact there's a sort of story about him going somewhere in U.P. (Note: Mark Tully going somewhere in Uttar Pradesh) after the...when the elections were on; and he is travelling....you must talk to him about this because I remember him vaguely telling me...and people heard that he was coming to the village, somewhere in UP and there was a meeting going on and he was sort of put up on the stage so that people could see - 'yeh Mark Tully sahab aye hain.' So there were stories like that. 16:18 I remember going to Tis Hazari when George Fernandes was to be produced in the Baroda Dynamite Case. And when the Emergency was lifted he was still in jail. And just before ... because he fought his election from jail...because he had like...that thing is still true...if you've not been convicted you can still contest...any one...it’s a huge majority. 16:52 And I remember there were a few press people at that time. I don't know if your father was at that- Tiz Hazari Court but he was in shackles, you know ---- [Kai : Yes, I've seen the photos.] ---- He just ...he's not just being, it was the country which was in chains and there was...I recall this also very clearly ...there was one day I think in January or February '77 when we ...there was a call for fast to support George Fernandes. I never ...I've never fast in my life. I said it was a good thing to do ...so I fasted. I know how many else...how many others ...journalists otherwise fasted at the time. 17:46 Any way when you're young you have certain ...there's some romanticism about things...I mean you see the things that are changing in front of your eyes. Of course it all fell apart, you know, ---- [Kai : Very fast!] ---- ...within a couple of years. But the fact that it could be done that people's movement could bring down a dictator.
|| ---SH on the ambiance at HT...cautionary, glum, people were scared.
---BBC and Voice of America being accessible.
--- SH going to Tis Hazari when George Fernandes was being produced—shackled—allegory with India being shackled.
--SH and others holding a fast in support.
---idealism of the young changing to cynicism but not before it was clear that people could bring down a dictator.
| 18:13 [Kai] : But how did the....how did the senior editors in HT deal with this phase? I mean do you have a sense of that they caught on that things were really changing and going against Congress?
18:26 [SH] : No, I remember Karlekar coming ... Karlekar coming into the New room late at night and says, nothing will happen...Opposition rascals will get a beating and .....you know...don't use this but...he was very very Congressy..shall we say... ---- [Kai: Haan Haan] ---- ... that thing...totally kowtowing to the establishment. They were others like the news...one news editor was fairly balanced and wanted a range of things to be reflected in the coverage. And the other one was extremely conservative and very very worried about how it might affect the paper adversely. It's a Birla paper...what could affect it?! 19:15 It's K. K. Birla (Note: Krishna Kumar Birla) ! So I think that and there were assistant editors like Nayar and so on who ...basically they all shut up...you know, they didn't...they weren't given a chance to write anything during the years of the Emergency. There was a cartoonist, Rajinder Puri, who is Rakshat Puri's brother ... all these...all the critical cartooning completely stop everywhere. 19:59 I think only the Common Man kept on going in some ways because he was too ...too much of an anti-establishment.
20:07 [Kai] : Well I've seen some ...only recently and very peculiarly in the Illustrated Weekly but I was surprised at how sly some of the Mario (Ref.: Mario Miranda) cartoons in the Illustrated Weekly were. ..very clever but really sticking it in...probably too smart to be caught by the Censors.
20:30 [SH] : Miss ... Bundu...
20:30 [Kai] : Haan, Bundaldass, Miss Fonseca ---- [SH : Miss Fonseca and Bundaldass yeah...and the Mantri!] ---- ...the Mantri always yeah.
20:39 [SH] : So ...I think that's where ... I think our sense of humour took a beating during that time. People were so scared that they wouldn't like to talk about anything. Of course we had the smaller sort of discussions and meetings and so on if that was possible. I remember in Bombay going to a meeting where...what's his name...Mrinal Gore was speaking and that socialist leader, great socialist leader, what's his name..21:17 ----- [Kai : ??? NAME] ---- .....?? no no no…NAME was in jail. Uhmmm Joshi..Joshi...He was speaking and it was smaller, it's a room...crowded and he was saying that 'whether we are covered or not...whether the press is there or not..(long pause) we have the first republic, we'll have a second republic...we'll have a third republic also...how does it matter. We'll ...we'll fight.' 21:57 So then there was that ...it wasn't quite an underground meeting but it was there, you know, it was happening. So all these things were happening all the time. The RSS of course was very active during the ...during the ...some of the time...other times, I think, they sort of bowed their head and ---- [22:18 Kai : ????] ---- ...yeah. Later licked the boots of this character. 22:26 So there was I think in the overall, if I look at the situation...looking back...as a young journalist it was a real bloody...you know...you came face-to-face with the state in it most elemental and incomprehensibly virulent forms...intolerant, you know...intolerance is a good work now-a-days, you know, where anything you said would be interpreted as anti-national. That's why when I see...hear these words you know- anti-national, intolerance, I'm very amused...you know our memory is so short because many of the --- [23:18 Kai : These people came out of that.]---- people...they have no idea. These people, you know...I remember going to JNU during the Emergency, I was telling Prabhat Patnaik yesterday...I came here and one of my friends was very active in the thing in the hostels there. He just became member of the Planning Commission in the last Government- Saumitra Chaudhuri, and Tripathi who was one of the NCP, he was the guy which everybody was trying to catch because he was the. ..what Kumar this guy yea?....The guy who's just been arrested by the ... the JN.. ---- 23:54[Kai : Kanhaiya Kumar? ] -----... Kanhaiya Kumar....but Kanhaiya Kumar got caught but this guy was leading the police on a wild goose chase everywhere, you know one day he'll be there, another day in Nepal...somewhere in Delhi. 24:07 So it was also an exciting time...when you are young and you could see that there was resistance ...you couldn't see a way out of resistance but when Mrs Gandhi made the fatal error of listening to her son in the IB saying that, 'it's cake walk madam,' you know...we also saw the change because the moment the elections were declared you should see the previous day's reporting in the HT and the other papers, and the next day, you know. People testing the...there was a substantial change.24:50 As the days progressed (it) became sharper and sharper, you know, it was almost as if the nightmare had been left behind and people were finding themselves again. So I think it's a...one of the lessons I learnt at that time was that it's in the nature of the state to be repressive...it is not in the nature of the state to be progressive and democratic and open and transparent. It will only become that when it's really pushed because we're ----25:25 [Kai's voice overlaps with SH : Constitutionally constrained.] ---- ...yeah... Even the justices were emasculated...Supreme Court was emasculated. Only Khanna took a position in ...then he left because he retired. 25:42 And how easy it is for that to happen, you know. I mean there have been time when I think the Emergency has been remembered at various events and .... by journalists and so on. And it'll also never again...well...you're seeing a different kind of censorship which can't be called censorship but it's really like going the other end, you know. I mean this is not relevant necessarily... ----
| --On how the senior editors felt when tides changed against the Gandhis.
--- Karlekar believed that Congress will be back after elections.
---different attitudes to post-Emergency within HT.
--- HT owned by K. K. Birla—so safe.
---Most people just followed orders--- Rajinder Puri, the cartoonist’s Common Man kept on with the criticism.
--satirical cartoons by Mario Miranda popular.
---Characters of Mario Miranda’s comic- Bundaldass, Miss Fonseca and Mantri.
--SH’s narration of a meeting in Bombay where Mrinal Gore, Joshi spoke
---RSS defied but not much.
---Emergency as being a tough love for the journalists—frustrated-unsure etc.
--SH compares the uses of terms like anti-national with when used during the Emergency.
---Saumitra Chaudhuri on the run.
---exciting time in spite of restrictions.
---Mrs Indira Gandhi’s error in listening to her son.
--On SH’s understanding of the nature of state.
---Justices were also emasculated with the exception of Khanna.
| 26:20 [Kai] : Well it's a question I've asked a ...several people ...because many people do see a diminution of courage and independence in the media in recent years and one wonders whether ... I mean many people also say this is because of pressure from the owners. And the question is ...is..is...is whether owners also learnt during the Emergency that ... that journalists and editors could very easily be pushed around.
27:00 [SH] : I think the owners knew that all along.
27:01 [Kai] : That's probably true because things have happened earlier.
27:05 [SH] : This was that the owners ...that the editors and journalists could be pushed around by the other powers...much more substantial than the owners because political power is certainly more stronger in many ways than...than financial power. It can drive financial power underground. 27:30 So the only person who stood up at that time was Ramnath Goenkar for his...for his paper.
27:39 [Kai] : Irani (Ref.: C. R. Irani of Statesman) has some reputation also at that stage that's a complicated history himself.
27:41 [SH] : Irani of course because...yeah I mean...as he said he was the son-in-law uhmmm to...he was like Assamese because he worked all his life in tea gardens in Assam. Yeah that was...The Statesman had a thing...had a position...took a position...flew the flag...The Hindu tried ...at least Ram did. But I think on the whole...because V K Narasimhan with the Express and 28:26 to a degree Irani as the owner whose...I think his business interests were affected earlier by Mrs Gandhi and her thing so that was his personal factor than anything else. 28:45 But if you look around what I haven't been able to do is look at how the local press, the regional press, the district press...how these guys ----- [Kai :...were affected and reacted.] ---- functioned. For instance, I once went to Muzaffarnagar....Muzzafarpur...Muzzafarpur.... (SH debates about the correct name) ----- 29:11 [Kai : Muzaffarnagar is in Doab...Muzaffarpur is in Terai...I mean Bihar side nah? ] ----- ...No here...Muzaffarpur .... ----- 29:19 [Kai: Nahi...you mean the Jat side?] ---- [SH in the background: The one near ...near Meerut] ----- 29:24 [Kai : That's Muzaffarnagar] -----
29:23 [SH] : That's where ...yeah…that's where a lot of the sterilisations took place. So I think it was Neerja... Neerja Chowdhury and I ...we went ...you should talk to Neerja about this because....have you talked to her? ---- 29:36 [Kai : Not yet.] ---- Because we went and spent some time there, and then we went and met the maulvi of the local mosque and this is just the campaign...the campaign was, I think just under way. And he said a couple of things which we found...which I certainly found very striking. One is that...I can't remember it in exact words but it was basically about this....
30:16 [SH] : Can I just take this call? ---- [Kai: Sure, I'll just pause this.]
| --Whether the owners realised that they could push journalists around?
---They always could.
--political power more powerful than financial.
--On Irani and his background.
---Not sure if the local and region presses cowed too.
--SH on his visit to Muzaffarnagar and opinion of a local maulvi about sterilisations.
--- Neerja Chowdhury
| 30:25 [Kai] : The maulvi you were saying....
30:26 [SH] : The maulvi was saying that - 'just because we don't protest doesn't mean that we will.... (corrects himself)...doesn't mean that we won't.' That was one thing. And the second thing was that 'Just because you suppress information in people, doesn't mean that people have stopped thinking.' You, it's very simple thing because it came be very refreshing...like you're surrounded by this pall of discipline and then you come to a little village and then this guy is saying this. And of course he talked about the sterilisation and said ...there will be some...something... people have got to pay for that. 31:13 But the most...so the...so the darkness of the Emergency is in my mind overwhelmed by the amazing power of the election process which one witnessed. I remembered Charan Singh, you know, very powerful speaker, I don't know if you've ever heard him but ---- [Kai: Yes, I have.] ---at Idgah ...the Idgah Maidan he was speaking and you know, must be a lakh of people...I mean I was going to places never knew existed in Delhi. 31:52 About a lakh of people turned up to listen to him and one thing stays in my mind and he says, duniya ki pradhan mantri aur rashtrapati kabhi jhoot nahi bolte lekin hamara pradhanmantri jo hai woh sach kabhi nahi bolte hain. (trans.: The Presidents and Prime Ministers of the world never speak a lie but our Prime Minister never speak the truth.)' You know, these things stand in your mind, you know. And what were they doing? They were giving not just good copy they were encouraging people, you know be courageous. Moraji Desai when he came out first thing he said, 'Nirbhay...Kisse dhar karte ho? What are you afraid of? You're afraid of....you should be afraid....do not be afraid of yourself because that is the biggest fear. Nobody else should be able to fight you because the weapon to fight you....your fear is n you. (trans. Be fearless…who are you afraid of?)' Two- three lakh people...pin drop silence.32:46 JP speaking and then when Bahuguna and Babuji ...Jagjivan Ram left the Congress and formed the CFD (Read as Congress for Democracy) there another rally at Ramlila and Babuji said one thing that I remember and Bhauguna said another thing which I remember or was it Vajpayee. 33:17 Babuji said, 'es desh ka sarkar dedh aadmi chala raha hai...dedh.’(trans.: One-and-a half government is running this government.) Congress ka... 'What is the Hindi word for its symbol?' ------ [Kai : uhmmm] ----- ...whatever it is! "...Kya hai...jante ho nah?" (trans.: What is it...do you know?)It's a cow and ....cow and calf ----- [Kai : Gaye - bachara] (trans.: cow and a calf). 33:43 Then I can't recall whether it was Bahuguna or Vajpayee because both were very good orators. You see the thing for them was not just to get to into the paper but to give utsaa to people...courage to the people, you know, because otherwise without that, you know, people would still be afraid to go to and vote, you know. 34:06 And he says,...'vote....' haan Vajpayee, ' vote baat rahe hain...baat ne do...vote lo... (SH corrected himself) no...no... note baat rahe hain...baat ne do...note lo....vote hame do. (trans.: they are distributing notes…let them distribute…take the notes…give us your votes.) Typical Vajpayee, you know. So I think...these are the things I remember when I remember in Bombay...concerned about the fact, you know, that there might a knock on the door...you might be taken away all that...He said, we saw all that because we had taken position... we refused to submit to the Censor and he was pissed off...all of them...because I think the fact that Rajmohan Gandhi was Chief Editor (Note: of Himmat) ---- [Kai : oh! He was] ---- ...and because he was the Mahatma's grandson, he was arrested on Gandhi Jayanti at Rajghat while offering prayers and so on, you know. So there was a pretty much an outrage because that sort of thing is something that's flashed across the world - 'Gandhi's grandson arrested'. This was not the nakli one ...not the asli one so ...I think that probably also later on played a role, you know.35:40 Not being ...we were harassed....accused acutely but ---- [Kai : But not shut down] ---- ...not shut down. They tried their best to shut us down not directly but indirectly so that's the thing. You were constantly aware of, you know, like this Censor was everywhere...'so well written...hmmm...I wish I could let it go but...I don't think so it should go...' Then he says, 'why do you need to write it this way?', I said, 'why should I not write it that way?' You know so...these are the things that really bugged you. ---- 36:23 [Kai : Haan haan...it must have been...] ---- ...feel like punching that guy. There was one chap, I think, his name was Wilfred de Souza or something...who was the first Censor ----- [Kai : But that was in Delhi, no?] ---- ...in Delhi but he got so stressed out that, I think, within a month or two he sort of retired from the post or something. 36:50 [SH and Kai digress : Can you smell of something burning? ----- Kai: There's some argarbati kind of smell. ----- SH: uhmmm...] ----- 36:54 The Hindustan Times used to be absolutely blank you know. There was Balram Tandu, he used to write for the Daily Telegraph and came from a very rich family...lived in Western...so his job was to put the editorial page to bed at night. So he would come in, smoke his cigarette, you know, crack jokes about the Emergency, and lighten everybody's mood, and say that 'Oh you know about the bitch (muffled spot because of laughter) this sort of thing...one of the stories joke he used to say that, 'you know what the thing is about Indira Gandhi, you know...when the election was on?', kya hai?' He says, 'Indira hatao Indiri Bachao.' (trans.: Get rid of Indira and save your penis) (Muffled spot). 37:52 So there was ...so there were people like that who were writing for the Daily Telegraph and all that, you much
they published I don't know. But who were very critical within the system. He was the Assistant Editor and he really didn't give a damn. He was absolutely openly contemptuous of Karlekar. 38:19 Many of us did not like Karlekar and there were some people who just wouldn't look at him when he came to the newsroom. So in many ways that was also ...
---Opinion of the maulvi—both comments indicated that people were conscious of what Emergency meant for them.
---SH on the amazing power of election processes. Charan Singh’s speech at Idgah.
--SH recounts some famous lines from the speeches.
-- Moraji Desai’s speech.
--Others who spoke were JP, Bahuguna, Babuji and Jagjivan Ram
---line from Vajpayee’s speech.
---Incident of arrest of Rajmohan Gandhi on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti at Rajghat while offering prayers ---widely publicised.
---Awareness of the omnipresence of the Censors.
---SH recounts who would make fun of the Emergency and who wouldn’t.
--- Openly contemptuous of Karlekar.
| 38:33 [Kai] : I don't know how much time you have but can you talk a little bit about that post-Emergency Phase and...I mean ...the euphoria ...arguably the new kind of journalism that ... that, you know, happened or flourished in ...in ...a lot of it is looking back on.
38:51 [SH] : One of the things that happened after the Emergency was that there was a lot of investigations about what happened in the Emergency...not just by the media but by the Shah Commission was there ..so a lot of information was coming out in public...in the public domain.... -----39:08 [Kai : And there was interest in it.] ---- ...And there was interest in it because everybody had a story. You know, this is the thing...everybody had a story. It was a question of whether you were able to get it out...whether you were able convey it compellingly. Kuldip Nayar of course about his experiences. There were many who did that but I think the ... the most interesting stories were those who came...which came out in the investigations which were ordered by the ... ----- [Kai : state.] -----....government. And I remember going to the Shah hearings and ... ----- [Kai : Which one?....Patiala House?] ---- .... Patiala House....Justice Shah was a very impressive character. I mean...very no nonsense sort of character. 39:57 And I think it was Romesh Thapar who was testifying and ...because Seminar was also very badly ----- [Kai : Their presses were also intimidated] ----.... yeah...I think they closed once or twice, I'm not sure. And all the editions...all the issues...and Romesh Thapar talks about...talked about how at a particular meeting at which he was, somebody very senior in the government, because Justice Shah was asking - how did this play out? ---like... He says, 'we'll go to this place and get the bastards. You know this is our chance.' 40:56 So it was a lot of...what came out through the Shah Commission was not that...not the ideological moorings of the Emergency but how petty and if not desperate ...how personalised the thing was, you know. 41:13 People they didn't like went into jail. People they .... ----- 41:19 [Kai : Vindictive streak.] ---- ..... yeah! There was a lot of that. I mean there was lot of political, of course clear BJP guys will have to go in, you know that well. I mean...what is that...the Jan Sanghis and the Socialists but there was this deep element of vindictiveness which the bureaucracy bent over backwards to accommodate and you know even support. I mean these things would not have happened... I mean Mrs Gandhi literally ...one of the ministers saying - 'trains are running on time.' During the Emergency, the trains were running on time! ---- 'People were disciplined'. I mean you'd see these slogans everywhere...anushasan (Note: self-discipline), you know ...was the word of the day. 'Discipline is the need of the hour,' you know and she stood between the order...that was the other poster...- She stood between order and chaos. She saved the Republic. 42:26 Reminds you of what's bit going on here (Note: This is a reference to the events at JNU in February 2016). There were kids shouting slogans...what the hell...he's bringing down the government...I mean...you can't even...government is so shit scared of kids who are shouting slogans...they think it'll bring the government. I went to JNU yesterday. It was really painful to go through there because there was nobody on the roads. 42:51 Everybody's left. The classes are closed. I'd gone for a seminar. Seminar had people but there are no kids on the roads. The hostels are empty. I've never seen it like that even in ...during the Emergency.
43:05 [Kai] : yeah! People are happy ????? It's an exciting time over there. Well, similarly everyone hopes that it'll ...it'll end for the best...this kind of...
43:19 [SH] : No, one thing on this is that a lot of young people of course were involved in the Emergency...the underground movements in Bihar and UP and Madhya Pradesh...they were all there...largely younger people ...not just...
43:45 [Kai] : By the way were you aware of much of a pamphlet - cyclostyle publication underground thing? ----- [SH : I was... ] ---- Yeah? Have you got any?
43:57 [SH] : Nah but coming back to the point you made about the sort of flush of freedom post-Emergency in the writing....I think they didn't go overboard but they ...I think there was also a sense of vindictiveness in the media...going after the Gandhi family in ..not just Gandhi but also going after people like R. K. Dhawan and all that because in all the people who used to do the chores, in a way, organised the cars for the rallies ...all this information started coming out. For the first time in India, I think, even this kind of detail information of how the system like that was working...how much corruption and how maleficence and how much control was given to a handful of people...minimum were not elected...and most of them who were businessmen. So that's the other layer that emerge nah. It's like here. The power that was given to business to do things.
| --On post-Emergency phase---was there a new kind of journalism?
--Post-Emergency lot of investigations, example Shah Commission
---the investigations initiated by the Government were very interesting--- testimonies of Kuldip Nayar, Romesh Thapar of Seminar.
---SH points that during Emergency it was very personalised targeting of people.
---Ways in which Indira Gandhi et al publicised the benefits of the Emergency –order and discipline.
---Comparisons with events at the JNU in 2016.
--What did JNU look like when SH visited in 2016.
---young people being involved in the Emergency.
--On cyclostyle and underground materials.
--Post-Emergency the press also displayed a sense of vindictiveness towards the Gandhis but also those associated with them, ex. R. K. Dhawan.
--- The power that was given to business to do things.
| 45:24 [Kai] : But that revelation hasn't changed things in any deep way, you know.
48:22 [Kai] : Great! Thanks a lot.
| ---Power-Business nexus still present.
---Ambanis and media.
--SH being fed-up with Censors but because of his Uncle’s Congress connections, he was safe.
---Himmat after SH left Kalpana Sharma, Shahnaz, Neerja Chowdhury.
---Neerja did lot of investigative journalism—bonded labour story, under-trials.
---Post-Emergency reportage was about what affected the people and turning the lens on the state.
--SH on Modi’s ‘Make in India’ and the successive drought.