sans serif records with deep regret the passing away of Ethiraj Raghavan, an Indian Express stringer who rose to be Editor of the largest selling Kannada daily newspaper, Vijaya Karnataka, in Bangalore on Saturday. He was 61 years old, and is survived his wife Kumuda and their daughter Swathi.
After stints with the Express in Mysore, Bangalore and New Delhi, E. Raghavan, as his byline went, joined the newly launched The Times in Bangalore in 1984.
That newspaper launched with a truncated title to circumvent labour laws in pre-liberalised India later became The Times of India. He later came its resident editor. In the mid 1990s, he shifted next door to be resident editor of The Economic Times, Bangalore, and eventually for all the southern editions of ET, till his retirement three years ago.
After a short spell as editorial consultant to DNA, Bangalore, Raaaa-gha-van (as he sonorously pronounced his name on the phone) returned to The Times group, first as consulting editor to Vijaya Next, a weekly Kannada newspaper launched by TOI, and then as editor of Vijaya Karnataka, that had been acquired by ToI six years ago.
Raghavan was co-author with the academic James Manor, of Broadening and Deepening of Democracy, a study of Karnataka politics.
An obituary in The Times of India, Bangalore, captures the essence of the man:
“You have got to get the drill right… Then things will naturally fall into place.”
That was Raghavan’s standard line on a big news day.
He would pump himself with an extra mug of coffee and call the reporters and the desk into a huddle. Every small news deveopment would be examined.
“Reporters need to overreact. The desk needs to see it in balance.”
Raghavan was my first Bureau Chief in Express when I joined the organisation in 1980. During my training session the first instruction to me from Raghavan was “Never write anything without verification. Even if it takes time to verify never mind. We should not mislead the readers.” His words have guided me all through my career.
I knew E Raghavan professionally since 1980s. He was one of the few editors who took development journalism seriously and encouraged writing on related subjects.
In fact he was possessed of a foresight and acumen far greater and deeper than he is given credit for.
He realized then that there was much more to the World Conferences and summits than mere State rhetoric and pomp and looked for the struggles behind the scenes that often went unnoticed by correspondents.
I still remember his letting me do a series of articles on the Issues behind the Beijing Conference, the Wolrd Summit on Social Development, the Cairo Population and Development Conference et al and how we were able to encourage others to write too.
He was one of a kind and the world is a poorer place with his passing.
In passing away of E.Raghavan we have lost a good journalist. I know Raghavan from the day he joined as a trainee in Indian Express and posted in Mysore in 1971.Even though I lost contact after I left India for taking a job abroad, Raghavan gave the same regard and respect to me when ever I met him, though he had climbed up fast in his profession. I convey my heartfelt condolences to his family on this irreparable loss.
Forty years ago, to be precise in 1972, a young man in early twenties came to meet me with a sense of hesitancy, and an akward feeling of nervousness.He had heard about me even before he had met me, he had been to quote him “warned that he(Mr Krishna Vattam ) had built such a formidable reputation as being the best journalist in that town that others could, at best live under his shadow (vide Sri Krishna Vattam Felicitation volume 2007).The first thing I did was to ask him to take his chair, offered a cup of coffee.and struck instantly a bond of friendship..Although I was 39 then .Raghavan just 22, he would say that my service in the fileld of journalism was equivalent to his age.This big differfence in age did not affect our relationshsip we were friends althrough, he used to come with me to University library, I asked him to go through week old copies of the Stateman. London Economist, Times Literary Review , Pacific Affairs etc He acknolwged that he had learnt from me the value of researching through diverse sources, at a time when there was no google to ferret out background information or wen we could not read e-papers..Yes as raghavan said I was his a rival first, but hastens to add that “but he was also a friend, and more importantly a mentor not in the narrow sense of the word, but in a larger extent.
We shared many interests such as wilkd life, books and film.He was not married when he began his career as the correspondent of the Indian Express in Mysore 1972, he used to join me in my Deccan Herald Office after he had finished his work, come with me to my house and my aged mother used to serve us ” Kai tuttu”.I attended his marriage with Ms kumuda in a pilgrim centre ,Chunchanakatte, in Mysore District(later I also attended the marriage of his daughter in Bangalore).
Raghavan’s death came as a great shock to me .I feel sad that at 79 , i had to share the experience of losing a very good friend.
When Raghavan was here in Mysore in 1970s, Deccan herald was keen to have me in Delhi Bureau.But I was not inclined to leave Mysore.When I was posted as the Chief Reporter of Deccan Herald in 1983-84, Raghavan who was with the Indian Express as the Chief Reporter was happy to see me inBangalore.When he came to know that I could not resist the call of Mysore and wanted to return to Mysore, he insisted that I should stay on in Bangalore and he was sure that he would see me retire from DH as the Associate Editor of the Paper..He knew that I did not regret on my decision to return to Mysore.