Our-Kerala

 

Deshabhimani malayalam news paper

 
DESHABHIMANI STRUGGLE, SURVIVAL AND SURGING AHEAD DESHABHIMANI,

 The mouth piece of CPI(M) in Kerala, completes 60th year of its life on 6th September, 2002. The humble beginning, but with high hopes, on 6th September, 1942 was the need of the turbulent days of freedom movement. That has been the culmination of the hopes and aspirations of millions of down-trodden and toiling masses who were oppressed, repressed and suppressed then. The paths traversed behind was stony and thorny, very often faced with brickbats from the authorities and adversaries, at the same time bouquets from beneficiaries. The onward march from a weekly to a full-fledged morning daily with six editions and from a double dummy cylinder to the state-of-the art equipments with fully computerised infrastructures and an Internet Edition is anyhow an awe-inspiring experiance and soul- stirring satisfaction.
DESHABHIMANI has a saga of trials and tribulations. The chequered history of this newspaper was and is inalienably a part and parcel of the growth of left and progressive movements in Kerala. As a powerful weapon it steadfastedly stood with the masses throughout and will continue so through to the end. That has been vindicated by the presence of multitude in the participation and involvement in the nurturing and caring this establishment. Moreover, for the financial support, the donation of a pet calf by an illiterate rural woman in earlier days and lakhs of rupees in `one day- street-bucket collection' after wards is a clear indication of how much affection the common folk have towards this news paper. They considered it as their own. As Abraham Lincon had defined democracy in his Gettysburg speech, it can unhesitatingly and proudly be adopted to DESHABHIMANI as the news paper "for the people, by the people, of the people". Under this glorious past and present, it would be nice to have a cursory glance at its history.
"Prabhatham" (The dawn), started on 9th January 1935 at Shorannur near Trichur, under the Editorship of EMS Namboodirippad, is considered to be the harbinger of DESHABHIMANI. Since it was the unofficial organ of the Socialist Section of the then Congress, it braved to fight against the injustice and atrocities prevailed. So, at the outset itself, it had to bear the brunt of authorities. The Publication of a Poem titled "Athmanadam" (Sound of the Soul) by Chovvara Parameswaran annoyed the government and the Paper was fined Rs.2000/-
Late A.K.Gopalan (popularly called AKG) who is one of the stalwarts of freedom movement and Communist Party in Kerala came forward confidently to raise funds, which was in dire need. He toured to Bombay, Ceylon, Burma and other places, met the malayalees there and managed to collect enough funds. It was at this time that the Second World War was broken out and consequently the government withdrew the license for the publication without any rhyme or reason.
Many of the leaders working then in the congress socialist party were really communists. 64 prominent comrades of this section clandestinely got together at "Parappuram" in Pinarayi Panchayat, Kannoor district and resolved to function as the Communist Party, even though the Party had been banned. Since the ban on the party was lifted only in 1942, the party had to work in the most adverse circumstances during those period.
As the party started functioning freely in 1942, It took initiative to have its own mouthpiece. Thus the birth of DESHABHIMANI at Kozhikode. It started as a weekly on 6th September 1942. The funds collected by A.K.G sustained it initially. Later E.M.S disposed of his ancestral property and donated the entire amount of Rs. 50,000/-.
Deshabhimani’s editorial captioned "The call of the gallows" in connection with the Kayyoor Martyrs infuriated the British imperialists. The Madras government took revenge and ordered to deposit Rs. 1000/-. Even in those days people could raise this amount within days. Four years later, despite all these adversities and daring against onslaughts, on 18th January 1946 Deshabhimani transformed into a four pager morning daily.
The Proletarian perspective and Progressive views of the newspaper was so irritating to the erstwhile princely rulers that the ‘Deshabhimani’ was banned once by the Government of Cochin and twice by the Diwan of Travancore during 1942-’46. By then Deshabhimani had become the fighting medium of the struggling people. It had taken up and raised voice for umpteen number of struggles. The agitation of toddy tappers of Anthikkad (Thrissur), strikes of Cochin harbour, Sitharam Mill, (Trichur) and Aaron Mill, (Kannur) were some of the outstanding among them. Not only the mass agitations in different parts of the state, but the struggles of the workers of other states also were reverberated through Deshabhimani. It played its revolutionary role diligently for the cause of those who laid down their lives at Karivallor, Kavumbai, Munayankunnu (Kannur) and Onchiam (Kozhikode) fighting against landlordism and Colonialism.
To improve the quality and meet the growing popularity, the need to replace the double dummy cylinder press by a speedier modern rotary press was felt in 1947 itself. Here also the partyworkers approached the people for the fund. The response was fantastic; experiences were inspiring. Among many, the glaring case of Palora matha, an illiterate, impoverished rural woman of Chombala Village near Kozhikode, was ever to remember. She had nothing to part with but her only pet calf which she donated to the party workers, and told them to sell the calf and utilise the money for DESHABHIMANI. What a gesture it was! Was anything else further needed to prove the endearment of the common people towards their paper?
Only because of political reasons, harassment and persecution against DESHABHIMANI continued unabatedly. Under the "Public Security Act" of 1947, many members of the editorial board were taken into custody. New cases were registered against them. Again the authorities insisted for a deposit of Rs.4000/. Party sympathizers and workers raised the fund as they have done it earlier. They were well aware that the existence of the paper was the need of the day.
EMS’s article on Malabar rebellion titled "The Message and Warning of 1921" was ostensibly the reason for imposing another ban on the paper. In the mean while party was banned and all repressive measures were taken against the paper too. Obviously, it was banned again under the general security Act of 1948.
Under the ban, the period between 1948-51 witnessed the hardest and severest repressive actions against the party. Workers were brutally tortured; mass struggles were inhumanly suppressed. Moyarath Sankaran, a staunch freedom fighter, and many others were murdered, and brutal incidents of Munayankunnu and Padikkunnu (Kannur) took place. Since The DESHABHIMANI was banned, there was none to highlight those atrocities. The paper was on the brink of liquidation. After releasing from the jail in 1951, it was AKG who took initiative to revive DESHABHIMANI.
While DESHABHIMANI was banned other disguised methods were used to convey the party messages to the common people. A series of other publications were started. "The Republic", "Kerala News", "Vishva Keralam", and "Navalokam" were few of them. These publications started from different places one after another as those were banned likewise. DESHABHIMANI resumed its publication on 16th December 1951, almost on the eve of 1952 election. During election campaign it played the role of a strong ideological weapon against the repressive congress misrule.
The ideological conflict within the party led to the split in 1964 that reflected in the functioning of the paper as well. After the split DESHABHIMANI became the organ of the CPI (M). Late K.P.R.Gopalan at the helm of affairs played a major role in sustaining the paper under the control of CPI (M).
Since the Kozhikode edition alone couldn’t meet the growing demand of the paper, the party took the initiative to start the 2nd Edition from Kochi on 16th May 1968 to cater the needs of Southern Kerala. In 1973 new building was constructed for it, again by raising Funds from the masses.
The period of emergency was of severe stress and strain for the party as well as for the party organ. DESHABHIMANI couldn’t publish editorials due to the hard and fast pre-censorship imposed on the eve of the emergency. It had to leave the editorial column blank. The paper was also denied of its rightful share of government advertisements. The paper could not print in time and had to skip even editions because of the delaying tactics of the censoring officers who were subservient to the authoritarian rulers.
By surmounting all these travails, DESHABHIMANI always stood in defense for the Democracy, and of the toiling masses during this period. It could expose the atrocities like the infamous Rajan Case in Kerala, and such other excesses elsewhere in India like Trukman Gate Case etc, where as the monopoly Press and others either kept mum or toed the line of authorities about these bestialities.
Though the span of time between the Kozhikode and Kochi editions was long, that of the other editions were short and the growth was rapid that reflects the strength and popularity of the party among the Keralites which enabled this tremendous achievements.
The 3rd Edition of DESHABHIMANI started on 4th January ’89 from Thiruvananthapuram. For this, party had decided to collect Rs. 25 lakhs. The result was beyond expectations. By way of one day bucket collection people generously donated Rs. 45 lakhs. DESHABHIMANI started its multi colour edition at Kochi in 1993, and Trivandrm & Kozhikode in 1994. Kannur and Kottayam Editions started with the colour printing installations right from the beginning.
The next Edition of DESHABHIMANI started on 30th January 1994 at Kannur, the stronghold of communist movement. One-day collection for Kannur edition throughout the state was Rs. 42 lakhs. Apart from this, Rs. One Crore was collected only from Kannur and Kasargode districts by way of the 12-year subscriptions. It was a landmark in the History of DESHABHIMANI.
On March 22th 1997, the 5th Edition was started at Kottayam, which had another salient feature in the fund collection. Two days bucket collection for Kottayam Edition was Rs. 75 lakhs. Besides that Rs. One Crore and 40 lakhs was collected through the annual subscriptions from the districts within the limit of new edition alone.
It is really an inspiring experience to note that within one month about One Crore and Five lakh Rupees was collected only from Trissur district for the sixth edition. People from all walks of life have given their share to this fund. Almost all the workers, peasants and employees’ etc. have contributed their One-Day Wages. On 1st September 2000 Thrissur edition was inaugurated. All the Printing and publishing companies that bring out different editions were named after the Party Stalwarts P Krishna Pillai, AKG, C H Kanaran and EMS respectively.
The Internet edition started on 1st January of 1998 is another feather in the cap of DESHABHIMANI.
From a very humble beginning of asset wise and circulation wise, it has become the third largest circulated daily in Kerala reaching a wide range of readership. The growth from "Kallachu" (a primitive calligraphic mode of printing) to the well-equipped modern machinery with all-out computerised facilities, tiding over all the hardships and constraints, is nothing but the fulfillment of the aspirations of the toiling masses and down trodden people of Kerala. Without their unstinted support and wholehearted loyalty it wouldn’t have been so.
Stalwarts of the left and progressive movements in Kerala like EMS Namboodirippad, M S Devadas, V T Induchudan, K P R Gopalan, P Govinda Pillai, K Chathunni Master, E K Nayanar and S Ramachandran Pillai were the luminaries who adorned the Chief Editorship of DESHABHIMANI at different times. Alongwith hundreds of party workers and thousands of sympathizers, P Krishna Pillai, A K Gopalan, E M S, C H Kanaran, Azheekodan Raghavan, P Kannan Nair, N Sreedharan and Chadayan Govindan were, among others, the moving spirits behind Deshabhimani. Since March 1998, after the demise of E M S, V S Achuthanandan, member, Polit bureau, CPI (M) took over the Chief Editorship. M. Govindankutty was the Printer & Publisher during 1951-67. In 1973 P. Kannan Nair tookover as the Printer, Publisher and General Manager. After his death in 1990, P. Karunakaran is the Printer, Publisher and General Manager.
From the beginning onwards the Proprietorship of DESHABHIMANI was vested with EMS. Since 1998 late Chadayan Govindan and after his death Pinarayi Vijayan holds the Proprietorship as the Secretary of CPI (M) Kerala State Committee.
EMS has been the be-all and end-all of DESHABHIMANI throughout his life. Till the very end of his life he continued to be the leading light. One of the two articles he wrote on the very day of his demise, that is on 19th March 1998, was one for the daily which was a series on contemporary politics captioned "Congress, BJP and Left parties" that the Deshabhimani carried along with his obituary and other one for the first anniversary supplement of Kottayam Edition.
DESHABHIMANI has always been acting as the eloquent mouthpiece of the progressive forces with clear political vision on national and international issues. It is the conception that, while sticking upon to its ideology, the paper should change into a full-fledged newspaper. DESHABHIMANI has changed a lot in form and content in recent times. It comes out regularly with the special pullouts on socio-economic, industrial & business, agriculture, sports and tourism etc., thereby attaining the status of a complete newspaper. The Children’s magazine "Thathamma", a sister publication, is widely accepted. DESHABHIMANI weekly sustains its qualitative standard. The first sports magazine in malayalam, "Kalikkalam", brought out by DESHABHIMANI, also shows its adaptability to cope with the changing times.
EMS had the desire and vision to make DESHABHIMANI the largest circulated daily. We are concertedly striving to fructify his dreams. In not so distant future his dreams will be achieved.
P.KARUNAKARAN