This is the full text of Malini Parthasarathy‘s July 20 letter to the board of directors of Kasturi & Sons, the holding company of The Hindu, on why she can no longer continue as executive editor of the paper, following the elevation of Delhi bureau chief Siddharth Varadarajan as the next editor of the paper.
I am writing this letter with a strong sense of hurt and anguish.
I have served this newspaper for the last 28 years with great earnestness, faith and a real sense of commitment in various capacities, starting as a staff reporter in Madras, and despite tremendous resistance from vested interests in the establishment, strong family and gender prejudice, have managed to make a substantive contribution to this newspaper’s glorious editorial heritage and reputation.
I was proud, as a granddaughter of Kasturi Srinivasan, a great Editor of The Hindu, to have risen through the editorial ranks and established a strong presence in the public arena even as I worked tirelessly to help build on the Hindu’s primary strengths—its editorial integrity and its commitment to journalism in its real sense, telling the news story as it really unfolds, without fear or favour.
In 2003, the strong family jealousies and prejudice intervened to pull away all my editorial responsibilities reflecting in an extremely personal and vindictive hate campaign, tarnishing my reputation, making me out to be “extra-constitutional” a “usurper” despite my more than two decades of editorial service, my academic qualifications and ground experience and despite the fact that I was an editorial functionary appointed by the Board of Directors.
Battling this tremendously debilitating hate campaign spearheaded by the present editor-in-chief, N. Ram and a cabal which tried every trick in the book to discredit my work for The Hindu, caricaturing me, making stinging references to my past personal difficulties, I still tried to make a contribution these last eight years to the editorial structure.
I spent all my evenings in the newsroom, tried to make constructive interventions only to be overruled and ridiculed in public. Although the daily humiliations were unbearable, I endured all this with the faith in this Board, that ultimately fairness and justice would prevail.
I did believe that this Board believed in equality of opportunity and it would recognise the work I had done for The Hindu but this was clearly not to be.
In bringing in Siddharth Varadarajan, an outsider with no familiarity with the Hindu’s rich editorial inheritance and no particular institutional loyalty, in the guise of “professionalising and contemporising”, what is sought to be done is to eliminate qualified successors from the family.
I deeply regret that my legitimate professional aspirations, especially as I had no hidden personal agenda nor any other stake in The Hindu were so belittled and so rudely rebuffed.
I am also deeply worried for the future of the newspaper given the scheme that is being contemplated by a group of directors who want to reduce the role of the Editor to another functionary in the company, sitting along with business side executives, treating the editorial operations as another branch of the corporate banyan tree.
By no means is this contemporising or professionalising editorial operations. This is only legitimizing the incursions of personal agendas into editorial operations. While being market-friendly is certainly necessary, succumbing to a range of dangerous personal agendas including gross self-promotion is not in the interest of this great newspaper.
I am resigning from the post of executive editor since my continuance has become untenable with the Board seeking to humiliate me by putting a junior professional like Siddharth Varadarajan over me as editor.
I, however, remain a wholetime director of the company.
Kuldip Nayar: N. Ram stalling Malini Parthasarathy‘s ascent