The National Herald – the daily launched by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru – is at crossroads. Will it be restructured and re-launched in keeping with the times? Or will the curtains finally come down upon an establishment which – despite having contributed hugely to the freedom movement — continued in past decades to be dogged by bad management, poor circulation and falling revenues.
In continuance of his father Rajiv Gandhi’s dreams of enabling the paper to acquire reputation and status and class as an international newspaper, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi is said to be keen about revival plans. However, all options are being kept open for the present. “Presently, we have decided to offer to the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) to employees”, said National Herald Chairman and AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora. “Revamp plans are also being considered,” he added.
The Herald Employees Union leader Saud Akhtar has a different version: “Closure terms have been finalised and the agreement is likely to be formalised shortly”. According to him, the decision to shut down the publication was taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi herself. Gandhi is chief patron of the trust that runs the newspaper.
The Herald staff, he said, was informed about the closure decision on January 16. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief T.V. Venkitachalam refused to corroborate Akhtar’s version.