Young Indian may remind many readers of Young India, the weekly published by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi from 1919 to 1931.
Young Indian was started by Congress Young Turk Chandra Shekhar in 1970. He apparently wanted his magazine to reflect the glorious tradition of Bapu’s Young India – journalism in the service of people.
Young Indian was a political weekly of current affairs published from New Delhi. The magazine was shut down in 1975 when the Emergency was clamped and Chandra Shekhar was arrested under the draconian Maintenance of Security Act.
The magazine resumed publication in 1989. But it had lost its old sheen and did not last long.
I came across its old issues in my library while working on the project to digitise my work. Going through the journal’s volumes can be interesting study for any student of journalism.
The editor of the magazine was Chandra Shekhar himself. It cost 40 paisa.
The Advisory Board of the publication reflected the emerging Young Turks, known for their socialist leanings, of the Congress party.
There was Congress MP Mohan Dharia, who would later become the commerce minister in the Janata Government in 1977.
The Board had Krishan Kant, who would later become the Vice-President of India.
Chintamani Panigrahi, who would later become the Governor of Manipur, was probably the lone Board member who was practicing journalist, as Editor of Oriya dailies Prajatantra and Matrubhumi.
Yet another member was Congress MP Bedbrata Barua, who would later part company to join Indira Gandhi’s cabinet.
Among the regular contributors to the magazines were names like Sarvodaya leader Jaya Prakash Narayan, left journalist Balraj Mehta, noted journalist and academician MD Nalpat and, of course, Yours Truly.
It was an exhilarating feeling to find a place in such a magazine. The weekly’s editorial, according to the PMO website, “had the distinction of being among the most quoted ones of the time.”
I shall soon share with readers of this website an article I had written about Jaya Prakash Narayan and which was carried by Young Indian. Fifty years later I wonder how it was allowed despite Chandra Shekhar’s equations with JP!
Politicians dabbling in journalism was a time-honoured tradition. I have worked for quite a few such publications. My first job, in 1972, was with Secular Democracy, a monthly magazine focusing on communalism and national integration. It was started by Congress MP Subhadra Joshi.
My two successive jobs also found me working with politicians. My second job was with Pratipaksha, a Hindi tabloid started by Socialist leader George Fernandes in 1972. As luck would have it, my third job was also with a newspaper that was controlled by a politician – Vidya Charan Shukla. The Hitavada was an English daily, with editions in Nagpur, Bhopal, Raipur and Jabalpur.
Having a politician as newspapers’ owners could harm the publications, as it happened in the case of Pratipaksha and Young Indian. But it never helped journalism.
VC Shukla was Information and Broadcasting Minister when the Emergency was imposed. I was working for The Hitavada then.
It was a widely known fact in official circles that The Hitavada was owned by one of the most important ministers of the Indira cabinet.
Yet, on that fateful night of June 25, 1975, the policemen raided the daily’s office and stopped it’s printing.
The officials allowed the printing the edition of June 26, 1975, only after going through the content and ensuring that it did not carry any ‘offensive’ material.
I remember that because I happened to be on night duty that day, responsible for bringing out the edition.