Guest column: Newspaper with a warm heart
Today, HT has the highest readership in the tricity, and is a leading daily in the country.Updated: Apr 22, 2018 10:08 IST
On April 18, 2018, Hindustan Times ( HT) celebrated the 18th anniversary of the launch in Chandigarh - catering to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K. As I saw the happy photographs of all the three chief ministers (Jai Ram Thakur of Himachal Pradesh, Capt Amarinder Singh of Punjab and Manohar Lal Khattar of Haryana), along with Punjab governor VP Singh Badnore and former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, cutting the mega cake, my heart went out to HT.
I was taken back to 1996 when I was commanding my unit at Lalgarh Jattan ( Rajasthan) and the commanding general of the US Pacific Army, Lt Gen WM Steele, had visited us at the Mahajan ranges, applauding our combat group manoeuvre with live firing. It was a prestigious event for the Indian Army. I spoke to the then resident editor of HT, to cover the event, and his prompt reply was, “ please send a writeup with photos immediately, Colonel Saheb ”. And the next day, my unit ( 48 Armoured Regiment) was on cloud nine as HT splashed a feature on the splendid operational preparedness of the Indian Army.
That was the beginning of my love affair with HT. I started writing for the paper, starting with letters to the editor, and slowly graduating to articles. I didn’t touch upon politics or controversial issues and only wrote about constructive subjects of social good, and life positive. I loved sharing my happy memories with HT where editors encouraged the writer in me.
I still remember when my first article ‘ Holi warrior’ was published as part of the column Off track ( now ‘Spice of life’) in March 2006. ‘ Debating with Sushma Swaraj’ ( December 2009) was my tribute to the legendary debater who was my senior at Panjab University in 1971–72, ‘ Thank you, sir’ ( September 2010 ) was my salute to my KG School, Belgaum, principal R S Mani, who nurtured me, a village boy, and made a man out of him. ‘Love at the LoC’ ( March 2011) was about our silver wedding at Poonch, where we met people from India and Pakistan who were using the historic bus service between Poonch and Rawalakot, then just inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi.
HT’s sensitivity to social progress and good of the people was reflected in the articles: ‘Lokpal fiasco let the nation down’ ( January 2012)’, ‘Short-term gain, long-term loss?’ ( March 2012), and ‘Show exit polls the door’ ( March 2012).
The newspaper also supported our soldiers – ‘Man behind the machine’ ( April 2012), ‘Challenges before the Army’( April 2012), ‘Suicides in Army: blame the CO, not the general’ ( September 2012).
Life positivity was celebrated through ‘Reconciliation, a lesson for life’ ( June 2012) , ‘Growing old together ( December 12), ‘ How can oldies stop being boring?’ ( 2013), ‘A teacher in my son’ ( August 13).
Sports stars, too, got their share of applause, through ‘Salute to Mary Kom’, ‘ Why we need bicycle tracks’ (October 2013), ‘ The day I ran like Milkha Singh, to be on time!’ ( January 2014).
‘Happy New Year, Suraj’ ( January 2015), was a tribute to the positivity of the State Bank of India peon with only one hand, and ‘My safai karamchari friends’ ( 11 March 2018) was a thank-you note to people who clean up after us.
And yes, one more point – the editorial team gives good captions, and highlights the contribution with apt sketches. Thank you.
Now HT is a part of the family. Anusha, our lawyer-cum-creative-writer daughter, who is also a Mumbai-based nature enthusiast, writes regularly for the paper .
Our drawing room too reflects our fondness for the brand – thanks to the HT coffee mugs on display. These have been won by me and my wife for ‘best readers of the week’ in the newspaper’s weekly debates.
Today, HT has the highest readership in the tricity, and is a leading daily in the country. It is authentic with unbiased editorials and opinions, effectively raising important social issues, thinking of the nation first, and reflecting the opinion of people. People also love it for its easy and interesting readability. Morning tea and HT go hand in hand. All the best to our cheerful friend!
The writer is an Ambala Cann-based freelance contributor
First Published: Apr 21, 2018 23:15 IST