Having been brought up on a staple diet of ‘The Hindu’ since primary school, I felt like fish out of water when I had to work in Mumbai in those pre-internet times. After 3 years I moved back to Chennai in 1998 and started my second tryst with The Hindu, when, all of a sudden, in 1999, the editor wrote a front page editorial welcoming the fall of the then BJP government due to Jayalalithaa’s treachery (Swamy’s included). I was so taken aback that I couldn’t digest the editorial for many days. Then, much against my family upbringing, I stopped the subscription.
Surprisingly there was an agent from The Hindu, at my gate, inquiring why I had stopped subscription. Probably many more should have stopped, I presumed. I had explained him the reason. He reminded me about the other features of the paper and encouraged me to resume subscription. I took him inside, offered coffee, and explained my family’s association with the paper and how difficult it had been for me to stop my association with the paper. I had also explained about a financial award that ‘The Hindu’ had given me for an earlier academic excellence and how The Hindu, under Narasimhan, had shaped my language and outlook during my school times.
Later I had a love-hate relationship with the paper as N.Ram had taken over as the editor. I had written many ‘Letters to the Editor’, several of them having been published, on various issues mostly criticizing the editorial stance of the paper. I continued following the paper wherever I have been working from across the globe. If there was one issue where The Hindu’s stance was, in my opinion, correct, then it was on the murderous LTTE.
In the distant past, ‘Frontline’ – The Hindu’s sister publication, though a staunch left leaning magazine, had kept me enthralled when it had R.K.Narayan’s articles while ‘The Hindu’ itself had articles by Art Buchwald, Gangadhar and a whole lot of other luminaries who had provided constant and staple fodder for me to quench my linguistic and humor appetite. Its coverage on ‘History’ and ‘Heritage’ had no parallel.
How could one forget the brilliant investigative journalism on Bofor’s Scandal by N.Ram and Chitra Subramaniam? ‘Where have those standards gone?’ has been a question I have not been able to find an answer from The Hindu.
It embarked on a novel and praiseworthy idea of a ‘Reader’s Editor’ modeled on The Guardian of the U.K. Except for the first Reader’s Editor, the other two gentlemen have left much to be desired in terms of standards and policies. Lesser said on this aspect, the better.
In the recent past, the paper has gradually deteriorated and has become a completely anti-national document, with many of its editors being chosen based on their degree of animosity towards right-wing political thought in general and India in particular. With the exit of columnists like P.Sainath and Praveen Swami, the once educative column spaces were increasingly consigned to the dustbins of left thought and rhetoric.
Today, I stand bewildered at the totally unacceptable stance of the paper on the JNU issue and earlier on the Award-Wapasi drama. The Hindu has become more virulent and acerbic than it has even been in the past.
The paper has, in my opinion, reached its nadir in editorial content and standard, the depths of hatred in terms of its views on right-wing political thought and opinion. Towards India, its stance has turned even more pungent and downright seditious.
The Hindu having thus turned despicable in every sense, I hereby consign it to the dustbins of hatred and animosity.
Unless The Hindu’s editors and ownership change, the paper is irredeemable.
I feel sorry for the paper, its nationalist founders and the friends who work there.
I feel I have lost a childhood friend, for I have narrated several instances from my growing-up years pertaining to The Hindu in my book ‘Monday is not Tuesday‘.