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Why not a Ram rekha, asks PM

By Our Special Correspondent



The former Editor of The Hindu, G. Kasturi, honours Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee with a shawl at the 125th Anniversary Celebrations of the newspaper in Chennai on Saturday. The Editor-in-Chief, N. Ram, looks on. — Photo: Shaju John

CHENNAI SEPT. 13. Should `Lakshman rekha' now be called `Ram rekha'? This interesting aside represented the lighter part of the function organised today to mark The Hindu's 125th year celebrations.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee remarked that in his five years of first-hand experience in governance, he fully knew the shortcomings of the system better, which the media were welcome to expose.

Stressing that the approach should be fair and balanced, he said: "we have full faith in the Indian media. It can no doubt take care of its responsibilities and professional ethics. The media should draw its own `Lakshman rekha'," he said. And then turning to the newspaper's Editor-in-Chief, N. Ram, he asked: "Or should I say Ram rekha?"

The Governor, P.S. Ramamohan Rao, who presided, also had some humour to share with the audience.

Born in the house of a busy lawyer in a mofussil town, whose family believed in only two meals a day for convenience, "I was weaned on The Hindu as a substitute for breakfast," he said.

As a "loyal" reader of the newspaper for 57 years, Mr. Rao wanted The Hindu to start a woman's magazine.

Noting that the year 2005 would mark the centenary of the present ownership of the paper, he said: "I hope there will be another celebration".

Ovation for Kasturi

The event had its emotional side too, due to the presence of the former Editor of The Hindu between 1965 and 1991, G. Kasturi. Every time his name was mentioned, the audience broke into applause, the loudest cheer coming when he offered felicitations to Prime Minister Vajpayee by presenting a shawl.

Equally rapturous was the ovation when mention was made of his contribution to the newspaper's modernisation.

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