The Tribune has completed 140 years. Congratulations on a terrific journey of truth and trust. I would like to reflect on this major milestone and highlight my experience along its transformative journey.
The Tribune has been a part of my informative appetite ever since I took to reading newspapers, or rather much before that when I just used to glance through its sports page during my early student days at Bishop Cotton School, Shimla. This dates back to the 1940s. I recollect that the newspaper was even brought out from Shimla for a few months immediately after Independence. The Tribune has stayed with me all these years without a miss.
In 1962, at the age of 28, I was asked by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to contest the Lok Sabha elections, which laid the foundation for my political journey. Over the years, I have held several positions of public service at the state and national level including Honorary Captain in the Indian Army as ADC to the first President of India, six-time Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Cabinet positions at the Centre, as well as former member of Indian delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations. I am associated with several cultural and social organisations like Indo-Soviet Friendship Society, Friends of Soviet Union, President, Sanskriti Sahitya Sammelan etc. Being an avid reader and a public figure, I congratulate The Tribune on being an essential enabler in today’s democracy by empowering the masses with not just meaningful, but also balanced information.
In March 2007, I launched the Himachal edition of The Tribune along with Justice RS Pathak, the then President, The Tribune Trust, and HK Dua, the then Editor-in-Chief, with the belief that the bond between the newspaper and residents of Himachal Pradesh would get further strengthened with this initiative. Since then, I reminisce numerous early mornings on the lawns at Holly Lodge, reading a crisp hard copy The Tribune daily fresh off the press along with a cup of chai. While the lawns may have shifted (from Holly Lodge to Oak Over to Jantar Mantar, Delhi) with change in positions, what remained unchanged is the crispness and relevance of The Tribune’s reporting.
Even while on international travel, I have relied heavily on the online edition of The Tribune to get an up-to-date, neutral perspective on national and local happenings in Himachal Pradesh.
The importance of unbiased information can never be overemphasised and that is exactly what The Tribune has always delivered. Irrespective of whether it highlighted my government’s apt policy-making or identified opportunities for improvement, it provided an additional means for me to connect with the masses, something I’ve relished throughout my career. Even while in the Opposition, upholding the best interests of the people of Himachal Pradesh remains my top priority and The Tribune offers an unparalleled means to communicate my views on any inefficiencies in the government’s policy-making and for holding it accountable.
I have always valued being answerable to the public directly and through the media. I had the opportunity to interact with the Editors and correspondents of The Tribune over the past six decades. The interactions on social and political matters always left me with an impression that The Tribune staff is not merely a purveyor of information, but also an effective promoter of the interests of the masses. The level of maturity, accuracy and wisdom shown by the staff at The Tribune has been consistent and undeniably thorough, along with a steadfast determination to uncover the truth.
Before my political career even started, as a young boy growing up in Rampur Bushahr and ready to ‘take on the world’, I used to hear tales that showcased fearless, free and skilled journalism. Stories like that of The Tribune Editor Kalinath Ray being arrested in 1919 for writing against British atrocities left an indelible impression on my mind about the courage, grit and fairness of the people who practised the profession with such piousness and respect. While we have come a long way since Kalinath Ray’s days, our collective struggles to overcome a plethora of challenges, agony, sacrifices and accomplishments of our journey as a nation must be meaningfully depicted. From Independence, the nationalisation of the railway network, hosting the first Asian Games, the Green Revolution, the Simla Agreement, the grant of statehood to Himachal Pradesh and winning the cricket World Cup to the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent farmers’ protests. These are all important aspects of our journey that must be reported with utmost accuracy and responsibility, without bias and prejudice. Peace, progress and harmony are of paramount importance to the country. Every care must be taken to see that these principles are not disturbed or dented by irresponsible and overambitious reporting. This, along with acquainting the readers with the dynamism of India’s foreign relations, is a job that The Tribune has masterfully done.
These values have helped shape The Tribune’s legacy and built it into the largest selling daily in North India and one of the leading independent media outlets for Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.
I congratulate The Tribune on continuing to deliver hard-hitting, impactful and unprejudiced information to its readers. As we look forward to witness profound and unprecedented changes in the coming decades, here’s wishing The Tribune and its staff an ever-continuing journey of responsible reporting and success, trust and glory.