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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 46, November 5, 2011

On Nikhil Chakravartty’s 98th Birth Anniversary

Tuesday 8 November 2011

[(November 3 this year marks Nikhil Chakravartty’s ninetyeighth birth anniversary. While remembering him on this occasion we are reproducing the following message sent to the Mainstream editor by Justice P.B. Sawant who was then the Chairman of the Press Council of India. This was published in the August 29, 1998 issue of this journal. We also reproduce the speech delivered by Justice Sawant at the inaugural session of a two-day seminar on the ‘Role of Media in Crisis Situations’ organised by the Press Council on November 16-17, 1998 to observe ‘Press Day 1998’ on November 16 which was dedicated that year to the memory of Nikhil Chakravartty. We further reproduce the valedictory address to the seminar by veteran jouranlist and former Director of the Press Institute of India Ajit Bhattacharjea who departed from our midst on April 4, 2011.)]

Justice P.B. Sawant’s Message on N.C.’s Demise

The condolence resolution passed by the Press Council of India on the 4th of this month (August) must have reached you by this time. In addition, the individual members expressed their own feelings and narrated their reminiscences of Dada who was also associated with the Press Council as its member for three years from 1995.

I had the fortune of having him as a senior member of the Council when I took over as its Chairman. I had never met him before that except through his writings. It was a case of friendship at first sight which grew more endearing and enduring with the passage of time. I remember distinctly his sage advice at the first personal meeting with him. He told me not to get bogged down in the routine work of adjudication of the complaints; there was other important work to be done, he said. The advice was after my own intentions and when thereafter the Press Council started undertaking non-routine activities, he supported them heartily by taking personal interest in them. His moral support, sober, mature advice and, above all, his weighty contribution to the deliberations in the Council brought solemnity to our work.

To me, he was more than a tower of strength. He had an unusual warmth of affection for me, and always words of experience couched in his grave but soft voice. To listen to him dwell on any subject, to his reminiscences of the past, his personal experiences with the big and the small in public life, his accurate analysis of the events, past and present, and of his intimate knowledge of the role played by many dominating the political scene in many crucial developments, was education by itself. One got clues to many events which no amount of literature on the subjects can provide. He was a living history of the past. I was hoping to have a long association with him and to learn more from him. But that was not to be.

His departure has created a void in my life which I am unable to describe in words. I feel that I am torn away suddenly from my near and dear one.

The world of journalism has, of course, suffered an irreplaceable loss. The likes of Dada are rarely born. He was first a gentleman and then a journalist. The rivalries, enmities and jealousies which are not unknown to the profession of journalism, never came his way. He was loved and respected in all quarters, and even those who did not see eye to eye with him on some issues had always a ready smile and esteem for him. He was Ajatashatru. The Press and the people will always miss him. His friends, like me, have now to find a solace in his writings and in memories of him which are, of course, ineffaceable.

P.B. Sawant, Chairman Press Council of India

Faridkot House (Ground Floor) Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001

Role of Media in Crises Situations by P.B. Sawant

Real Threat to Press Freedom by Ajit Bhattacharjea

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