How does one become a media person? A good university degree preferably in Literature, and a post graduate course in mass communication from a reputed school? Well, for VP Ramachandran (VPR), the eminent journalist, the story was different. The first course in journalism he attended was the one he taught as Director of Kerala Press Academy! He scaled great heights in
Starting out as a typist with Associated Press of India (API), a subsidiary of Reuters, VPR became an editorial assistant in 1947 and later, sub-editor. By then API had become Press Trust of India (PTI). 1954 saw VPR covering elections in
A major break for him came in 1956. At the age of 32 he was posted as foreign correspondent to
The next assignment was as special correspondent with accreditation to the government, a beat that included the PMO, Foreign Affairs and Defense ministries. He traveled with the President and Prime Minister to various countries, covered Pre-Summit Meetings of Foreign Ministers, and many international conferences including Non-Aligned Summit.
Around this time VPR was considered to be close to Indira Gandhi. Many were jealous of his power and position. In 1976 a rumor was floated that he was against the emergency. Indira Gandhi ordered United News of India (UNI), to which VPR had shifted in 1964, to bundle him out of
That was the greatest test of the man’s journalistic capabilities. He found news where none was expected to exist. The stories he filed, particularly about the steel mills and coal fields, were eagerly picked up by national newspapers and All India Radio. After the emergency he was back in Delhi.
During his years in the capital, VPR was also Secretary of Delhi Union of Journalists, Member of the Central Accreditation Committee for Journalists, General Secretary of the Press Club of India twice, and President of Delhi Malayalee Association.
Then it was back home to Kerala. In VPR’s own words, ‘I did not like the political atmosphere in
After a short stint as Editor, Mathrubhumi, the State Government appointed him Director of Kerala Press Academy’s
Last month we celebrated VPR’s 84th birthday at the Suburban Club,
VPR is a man who commands respect and love.
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