I started my career with The Hindustan Times 43 years ago. It was with awe that I first entered its premises in Delhi, looking for a job. Nostalgia is what I feel now.
I wish I could return to those times when I was brimming with youthful vitality. Those were the days when journalism and politics were at their best. And to witness from such close quarters those exciting years in the annals of Indian history, assisting great editors from time to time, was an exhilarating experience. Though I started my job as a typist in the editorial department, I gained in confidence as I learnt new skills.
I can now claim with pride to have worked with over a dozen editors. And the HT has had many illustrious editors. The newspaper has a history of more than 80 years and its credibility was high before Independence for its role in the freedom struggle and in later years for its objective reporting and editorial comments. I vividly recall some of the memorable events.
In the mid-1960s, the newspaper’s Washington correspondent was being given a farewell by the then US President, Lyndon B. Johnson, when he was called back to Delhi to take over as editor. This was a rare honour indeed.
In later years, when Emergency was imposed, another editor, a Magsaysay Award winner, addressed the political bureau. His words are clearly imprinted in my mind: “Let our heads be cut off but we won’t bow.”
Another time, when Narasimha Rao was detained during a CBI probe in September 1996, a suggestion made by me was well taken by a senior editor. He was going to take it as a single column news item but my intervention created a doubt in his mind about the importance of the story. So he rewrote the story to make it the lead. The result was that we scored over all our competitors the next morning.
Another editor described me as an ideal editor’s man. “Behind every reasonably content and low-tension editor lies a competent and patiently suffering secretary. SK tops my own list of this rare species.” And yet another editor added the epithet: “An uncomplaining Satish.” One more editor had this to say: “I don’t think I would have managed without you.”
A succession of people, both important and ordinary, have passed through my office. I am grateful to all of them and consider myself lucky that I was given the opportunity to work in the HT.
Today I make a happy exit.