Thursday, April 8, 2010

Some old writings for the paper....

A Luminary in Oblivion

Chirravoorni Yajaneswara Chintamani

(April 10, 1880 — July 1, 1941)

Much needs to be told about Sir C.Y.Chintamani, a Vizag born editor, journalist, politician and parliamentarian who wielded his pen like a sword dominating Indian journalism in the first three decades of the 20th century. Born to the trusted religious adviser of Maharaja Sir Vijayarama Gajapati Raju of Vizianagram, Chirravoorni Ramasomayajulu, and a good friend of the Maharaja's son Ananda Gajapati Raju, C.Y. Chintamani, became an editor at the age of 18, a legislator at 36 and a minister at 41. He was the Chief Editor of “the Leader” of Allahabad and the foremost Liberal Leader. Between 1927 and 1936, he was also the leader of the opposition in the U. P. Legislative Council.

Chintamani started his career as the editor of the weekly journal named “Vizag Spectator”, which is the first English publication exclusive to Vizag. Later he was invited to work for the Leader, a newspaper founded by Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. Fearless and forthright, he turned the paper into one of the best in the country. Though he started his political career as a Congressman, Chintamani later disassociated with Gandhi during the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement and with his comrades formed the Liberal Party. The liberals were of the view that beyond weakening the sense of respect for law and order, the policy of the Congress party has been barren of any results whether by way of constructive or destructive work. Hence Liberalism evolved as a philosophy of liberation, liberating Indian society from a variety of social and political chains and reminding the educated public of the values of civility. The liberals tried to raise the status of women by insisting upon their right to education, to prevent child marriages, to legislate the validity of widow marriages, the right to cross the seas, loosening of caste bonds, raising the age of marriage and many such invaluable causes.

His liberalistic and strong political views can clearly be seen in his works. In one of his books, Indian Politics since the Mutiny, Chintamani observes about the annexation of Upper Burma and its subsequent separation, “history records that after the Indian taxpayer paid the cost of three Burmese wars and financed the government of Burma during its many years of deficit, that country was separated from India without any adequate financial reparation.” At another point, he mentions 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, making apparent his differences with Gandhi.

When Gandhi continued his ardent supported to the Khilafat Movement in view of Hindu-muslim unity even after its apparent failure, Chintamani pointed to him that his support definitely extends to the Ali Brothers (Khilafat movement’s leading men) in their invitation to the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India.

During his editorship at the Leader, Chintamani had a clash with Pandit Motilal Nehru, the chairman of the Board of Directors which led to Nehru’s parting with the newspaper. So strong were the views of Sir C.Y.Chintamani who “stirred up the still waters of public life and raised the need for a public which could fearlessly and courageously give expression to the aspirations of those days,” as expressed by Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru on Chintamani’s 60th birthday.

His ties with homeland remained strong in spite of his innumerable activities. States Prof. R. Murthy from the History and Media Laws Dept. of A.U, “In 1935, he gave a series of lectures in the university, the most memorable of which was a seven hour lecture tracing the development of public life and political ideas and institutions from 1858 to 1935. Needless to say, he was the inspiration behind establishment of this department in 1984”.

Also, the Vizag Journalist Forum named a hall in the Press club after him.

Prof. Prasanna Murthy who established the Centre for Policy Studies in Vizag, remembers him from a brief acquaintance (being Chintamani’s colleagues nephew), as a very warm and insightful person. “He was the first among the great Telugu speaking English journalists who adorned the Indian Press,” he concludes.

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