Ramnath Goenka was a man of many parts—freedom fighter, Gandhian worker, politician, merchant, industrialist and newspaper magnate. But more than anything else he was an indomitable warrior for the freedom of the Press, whose frontiers he fearlessly defended and pushed, often at enormous cost to himself. His mission as a newspaper publisher was to empower the citizen, uphold his right to know, and to make all those in power and authority accountable to the people—a mission that he carried out with unflagging, if sometimes excessive, zeal.
During the Emergency, Ramnath Goenka—or RNG as he came to be popularly known—waged an epic battle of defiance against a vindictive government, and in later years launched a relentless campaign against corruption, which won him staunch admirers as well as bitter enemies. The targets of his campaigns included prime ministers, political leaders, corporate raiders, trade unionists and tycoons.
B.G. Verghese’s biography charts the tumultuous course of Goenka’s life, from his modest beginnings to his building of the vast Indian Express empire with its multiple editions, which reached out to readers in the remotest corners of the country. It also paints a compelling portrait of a man who was a bundle of contradictions—a wealthy man of property who lived an austere life; who was parsimonious to a fault yet could be exceedingly generous; who adored gossip and intrigue and was at the same time deeply spiritual; one of the most powerful men in India who was deeply lonely in his personal life; a man you could love or hate but never ignore.
This book has all the excitement of a roller-coaster ride as it takes the reader through the extraordinary twists and turns of fortune that characterized Ramnath Goenka’s life, including scandals and scoops, fiery public campaigns, dramatic court battles and the making and unmaking of political leaders and governments,. Along the way, it tells the story, too, of a newspaper that not only recorded history but also made it.
About the author
B.G. Verghese, columnist and author, entered journalism in 1949 after graduating from Delhi and Cambridge universities. He served with the Times of India for many years before becoming Information Adviser to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was later Editor of the Hindustan Times (1969–75) and the Indian Express (1982–86) and has thereafter been with the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi. He received the Magsaysay Award for Journalism in 1975.
Verghese has been associated with a number of official and non-official bodies and NGOs in the fields of education, population, human rights, the environment, regional cooperation and security, and remains actively involved in several media-related activities. He was a member of the Press Council, and chairs the Media Foundation.
He is the author of many books, including Waters of Hope, India’s Northeast Resurgent, and Reorienting India: The New Geo-Politics of Asia, and editor of Breaking the Big Story, published by Penguin.
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