My Reminiscences of M.V. Kamath

Prof. Santosh Kumar Tewari*

V. Kamath, a veteran journalist passed away on Thursday 9 October 2014, at the age of 93.

My first encounter with M.V. Kamath occurred when he was on the expert panel of the committee which selected me for the post of professor of journalism at the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in 1997. Mrs. Padma Ramachandran, ex-chief secretary of Kerala government, was chairing the panel. She was the vice chancellor there.

One of the questions Kamath asked me: ‘What would be your priority in developing the department of journalism in Baroda University?’

My answer was that I would like to invite as many people as possible from the profession of journalism and communication as guest faculty, and if possible I would like to give them regular appointments in my department.

I joined Baroda University in 1997 as professor. Years passed and then one fine morning all of a sudden I got a surprise call from Mr Kamath on my landline home phone. He said that he was in Baroda for a day and would like to meet me as well as my students.

I immediately invited him to my department. There he told my students how he covered Nathuram Godse’s trial in New Delhi in 1948-49 as a young reporter. The most interesting point he made was that when the judge pronounced the death sentence for Nathuram Godse, everybody in the courtroom was in tears. Godse’s hanging was the first execution in independent India.

Mr Kamath also presented me with a copy of his book ‘The Pursuit of Excellence’ published by Rupa & Co., New Delhi. I’ve read this book several times. The book explains the meaning of excellence and how to achieve it. I’ve recommended this book to so many people who strive for excellence in their lives and professions.

M.V. Kamath had a flair for simple writing. He penned about 50 books on a wide range of topics including journalism, media, politics, literature, Shirdi Saibaba, Narendra Modi, Mahatma Gandhi, etc. I also read his book on Saibaba many times over. Some of his bookshave been translated into other languages and some have been reprinted several times.

In 2009, Mr Kamath published his book’ Narendra Modi, The Architect of a Modern State’. Those days several political forces were against Modi because of the 2002 post-Godhara riots.

His book ‘À Reporter At Large’ is about his experiences as a journalist, including his witnessing our first independence day in 1947. It’s an interesting read for budding journalists and writers.

Due to his extensive writings Kamath became a legend in his life time. He was ex-editor of the ‘SundayTimes’. He also served as the Washington correspondent of the ‘Times of India’. He was former editor of the ‘Illustrated Weekly of India’ (prior to Khushwant Singh) and former chairman of Prasar Bharati. The UPA government at the centre removed him from the Prasar Bharati chief post by making an amendment in the law. During his early career he also worked in an evening newspaper ‘Free Press Bulletin’.

Kamath had a jovial personality with unassuming traits. He was a great man with a noble soul who upheld the high tradition of press freedom, including editor’s freedom.

He had unflinching interest in journalism education. His book ‘Professional Journalism’ has been a prescribed text book in various media institutions in the country for over two decades.He was honorary director of Manipal Institute of Communication, Karnataka, since its inception in 1997.He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 2004.

Personally I’m indebted to M.V. Kamath, because he gave me an opportunity to serve the people of Gujarat where I was for about one and a half decades.

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