By M.V.Ramakrishnan

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Concept And Dimensions Of My Column Delhiberations

In the PostScript in the preceding blog (August 27, When Music Critic Subbudu Made A Volte Face.....), I had recalled my close association with Mr. G. Kasturi and Mr. N. Ravi, successive Editors of THE HINDU, during the past 50 years.  And digging into my ancient files in a nostalgic mood, I found a letter I had written to Mr. Kasturi in 1976  --  spelling out my vision and perspective as an amateur journalist bound by the severe restrictions imposed by the civil servants' conduct rules. 

Among other things, some paragraphs of this letter  --  which closely followed a conversation we had during one of his short visits to New Delhi  --  clearly defined the scope of my light-hearted column Delhiberations in the Hindustan Times Evening News in the Capital.   Which, of course, figures so prominently in my ongoing recollections of the progressive scenarios of the good old 20th century!

 By the way, 'Raja Vishnu' was the pen-name under which I was signing my column in the Evening News, as I had done in Shankar's Weekly.

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Letter to Mr. G. Kasturi
30 June 1976

Dear Sir,

. . . . . . . . .  I don't know whether you chanced to see the Evening News on Friday;  anyway, I am enclosing a cutting from it.  This piece rounds off the earlier ones I had given you  --  depicting the summer exodus of the Delhi wives, which is a natural consequence of the nationally-integrated character of the Capital's population.

I also enclose a couple of earlier articles. What I am trying to highlight in my column for the present is the idea that New Delhi  --  with its self-contained residential sectors and wide-open spaces  --  is a nice, quiet place to live in, and the average citizen should be content with the environment.

There are other major themes like Historic Delhi, urban development, etc., which I hope to take up as I go along.  I have already commented extensively in the column on New Delhi's beautiful looks.  But the constant and underlying theme of Delhiberations is National Integration, which concept is built into the very structure of the column.

In evaluating the merit of my writing, it would be necessary to remember that I have very severe constraints in regard to the subjects I can deal with.  Nearly all important issues are out of bounds for me, and I can't afford to be too prolific in my output either.

It is true that even within their rigid boundaries, Delhiberations have acquired considerable depth.  But the most significant thing about this column is not just that it is good, but that:  (a)  even as a freelancer (burning midnight oil on office work, mostly research of my own innovation), I have been able to achieve a tour de force in popular journalism;  and (b) I have developed a technique of writing which isn't easy to imitate and which can, in the proper milieu, serve as a powerful instrument for moulding public opinion.

Perhaps what makes my portrayal of the pastoral atmosphere of the Capital's residential sectors interesting is the fact that the people who figure in the column are so human.  They have no doubt come to terms with their environment, but they aren't really immune to the attractions of the West or of the affluent lifestyle.  They do feel a constant yearning for the Western world and its material comforts, and a nagging desire for a more dynamic life.

These conflicting pulls of the soul and the simultaneous hankering after peace as well as adventure  --  which characterizes the intelligent person's reconciliation with realities  --  are a universal phenomenon.  There would be ways of dramatizing this aspect in the context of any place in the world;  my own focus is on New Delhi only because I happen to be living in New Delhi for the time being. . . . . . . . . .

With regards, 

Yours sincerely,

M.V. Ramakrishan
  alias Raja Vishnu