The centenarian English daily of Chennai (aka Madras) had become a staple companion of English-speaking Tamils. It had actually obtained a status of a second nature. The Hindu in one hand and a steaming brew of “dicoction” coffee in the other is the standard early morning scene amongst the Tamil bourgeoisie.
But things are changing for sure. The weatherman has already waved the flag of the imminent fresh laden clouds! Yes, The Times are stepping in the arena to change the tides of the monarch.
The long-time loyalists of The Hindu have started to get the feeling that the imperious Hindu is dithering rudderless these days, losing its traditional Hindu-moorings and turning into a mouthpiece of pseudo-secularist and leftist ideologues. Yes. Its USP is getting eroded.
Besides, there is a perceptible trend of degradation of the quality of the newspaper which was the chief source of authentic information and impeccable Queen’s English for Tamilians for over a century. Bloopers and howlers galore, what with its own “corrections” nook overflowing even with acknowledged bunglings (including the Karanjia sn(w)ap), not to speak of those unreported ones.
Many old-timers feel that the negative paradigm shift started after the current honcho took over the reins. The present chief is one of the most popular and powerful media figures in India is reported to be left-leaning and ultra-secular in the widely perceived connotation of the term “secular” in India. But the image-shift is a bit difficult for the paper with the name “Hindu” on its masthead and the cross of a long history of nationalist and traditional reporting! Hence the effort to be “more royal than the king” in its endeavor to don the politically correct mantle.
And the city of Chennai awaits the arrival of Times of India, Chennai edition, which will start making the early-morning “thud” on my doorstep from the Tamil New Year’s Day (the traditional one that falls in April ’08 – not the Goverment-sponsored new-year!). And already the tremors are being felt in the Hindu’s layout and structure. It is trying to morph into a tabloid during weekends. Perhaps we are going to witness many more surprises in the ensuing weeks preceding the D-Day!
But things will not be the same for the grand old man of Mount Road!
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