One of the forgotten figures from yesteryear is C Y Chintamani, the longtime editor of the Leader from Allahabad, a once prominent newspaper of British India.
Chirravuri Yagneshwara Chintamani, the dean of Indian journalists, was a journalist during an age when the Indian landscape produced men of great stature , when journalists were not afraid to speak their mind, when political correctness had not numbed the thinking processes and when liberalism was still a respected political ideology.
BRites (and Andhras) will forgive me for being parochial, since Chintamani's grandfather is one of my ancestors. My interest in Sir C Y Chintamani (knighted despite a lifetime of anti-British writings)was perked when i saw a little volume produced by Rupa and Co at a nondescript bookstore in Visakha when i was there recently.
C.Y.Chintamani - The Liberal Editor Politician by Sunil Raman, Rupa and Co., 2002. The book is a virtual goldmine of informational nuggets and is profusely illustrated with the major figures such as Tej Bahadur Sapru, MC Setalvad, Motilal Nehru, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Sir Cowasjee Jehangir,Madan Mohan Malaviya,V Srinivasa Sastri among others.
Chintamani was a maverick who was not afraid to speak his mind and disagreed with all the famous people of the day including Gandhi (he was not convinced that fasting was the proper tactic to use and disagreed with him on the Khilafat movement) Motilal Nehru and Madan Mohan Malaviya.
His column on Jinnah,dated April 17,1941, even today rates as a classic (titled 'Insolence') in english prose. He begins 'The address delivered by Mr.Mohamed Ali Jinnah as president of the All India Muslim League conference at Madras on Monday is best characterized by the word we have chosen for this article...'
Despite many prior and subsequent differences with the Mahatma, for whom he had great respect, he is vehement in his elegant denunciation of the arrest of Gandhi in April 12,1919 "We thought that the Government would be wise enough not to touch the person of Mr.Gandhi. But this was not to be. The Governments of India, the Punjab and Delhi all served on him orders restricting his movements. he decided to disobey the orders and has taken the consequences. At the time of writing, we do not know what his destination is and what exactly the intentions of the Government are, whether to release, intern, imprison or deport him. In his message to his countrymen, he has stated that 'it was galling for him to remain free while the Rowlatt legislation disfigured the statute book'."
Chintamani was ahead of his time in social issues having married a widow. http://www.aptoppers.org/journalists/cychintamani.htm http://www.rotary3290.org/news/rotaweek305/thoughts.htm
Jehangir Petit was the owner of a Cotton Spinning mill and also the well-known newspaper 'India Daily Mail'. The editor of the newspaper was Shri C Y Chintamani.
Chintamani was a free and fearless editor with rare foresight in contemporary political and social events. He used to give good coverage and due importance to current topics of social religious and cultural events. In politics he had his views, which were frankly expressed, in his 'Daily'. His opinions and comments were always balanced. He would not budge from his considered judgment given on any subject by any pressure whatsoever.
Once there was a big labour strike in which Mr Petit's mill workers too were participating. The atmosphere was very tense. 'The Daily Mail' had also something definite to say about the 'hartal'. Shri Chintamani as an editor declared that the cause of mill workers was right and justice was on their side, not on the side of the mill owners!
Mr Petit was furious about it and summoned him to his cabin and scolded him. "How dare you write like this? How you forgotten that you are in my service?" Mr Chintamani without replying tendered his resignation there and then and left. http://www.hbti.edu/about.htm http://www.tribuneindia.com/2002/20020728/spectrum/book6.htm
Re-examining Indian polity
Indian Politics Since the Mutiny
by C.Y. Chintamani; published by Rupa and Co. Daryaganj New Delhi; printed in India by Rekha Printers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi; Pages: 205. Rs 195.
FIRST a word about the author of the book, Indian Politics Since the Mutiny. C.Y. Chintamani, became an editor at the age of 18, a legislator at 36 and a minister at 41. While continuing to wield his pen like a sword, he dominated Indian journalism in the first three decades of the 20th century. His dominance and influence in public life is all the more remarkable when we consider that at a very young age he crossed the Godawari to make Allahabad his karamakshetra. The present book is the result of a series of lectures delivered by the author in Andhra University in 1935. The seven-hour lecture traced the development of public life and political ideas and institutions of India from 1858 to 1935, and sketches and comments upon the polity, politicians and newspapers of the times.
Though the reformist movement produced men who could be the envy and pride of any society, yet they would have been more than contented had the British administrators in India faithfully implemented the proclamation of Queen Victoria in 1858.
To appreciate that generation of leaders it is pertinent to point out that Queen Victoria had promised that she would bind herself to "our Indian territories by the same obligations of duty which bind us to all our other subjects", and that apart from admitting all the Indian subjects, irrespective of race or creed to "the offices in our service", she held out that "in their prosperity will be our strength; in their contentment our security and in their gratitude our best reward." The demand in those early years was primarily focused on having the British fulfil the promises held out in that royal proclamation.
The issues that mattered most were those that concerned the economy. Those who had the welfare of India at heart were extremely uncomfortable with the manner in which "the second Afghan War was embarked upon, for the benefit of England but at the cost of the Indian taxpayer".
In the first session of the Congress, a motion proposed by Sir Pherozeshah Mehta protesting against the annexation of Upper Burma was adopted. In the motion it was urged that, "if it must be annexed, Burma should be treated as Crown colony and should not be made a burden on Indian revenues." The author points out that "history records that after the Indian taxpayer paid the cost of three Burmese wars and finance the government of Burma during its many years of deficit that country was separated from India without any adequate financial reparation." It would also surprise many to read that khaddar as a mark of political protest was first used by Vishwanath Narayan Mandlik when import duty on Lancashire textile was abolished in the name of free trade.
Ironically, public-spirited people were soon to be cast aside by the tidal wave of aggressive Indian natinalism. Even more ironical is the fact that this breed of politicians was to be cast in the nomenclature of Liberals, which for all intents and purposes stood for conservatism in politics. This phase of Indian politics needs to be analysed. Herein lies the inability of our polity to help two powerful and influential schools of political thought to evolve.
A careful perusal of the period shows that we were unable to address the role of religion in public life. The religious fundamentalism that we face today is but the unfinished business of the past though the pen sketches of important leaders of different eras are excellent, one suspects that while portraying Mahatma Gandhi, the author has not been able to forget that he was responsible for casting aside the liberals.
It is not without significance that even T.N. Chaturvedi, presently a BJP parliamentarian, in his introduction has noted that the author questioned the ability of Mahatma Gandhi as a politician. Surely, the success of the Mahatma as a politician cannot be judged by his inability to attain Swaraj within twelve months, as was his expressed intent. The Mahatma’s success also does not depend upon the inability of the liberals to comprehend the power of "non-violent, non-cooperation" as a tool of attaining freedom and dispelling fear from the heart of even the humblest Indian.
Different chapters also contain notes and comments on the newspapers of the time. The one on Tribune makes for interesting reading: "When Sir Dennis Fitz Patrick was Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab, The Tribune was almost a power in the province; so much so, that the local (Lahore) Anglo-Indian paper, the Civil and Military Gazette once inquired whether the province was being governed by Sir Dennis or by The Tribune."
Finally, one wishes that the publishers had retained the original spellings and not Americanised them.
Sir Chirravuri Yagneshwara Chintamani(1880-1941) - a giant of a man during an era when India was not lacking men of stature.