From news to books
Tejeshwar Singh, newsreader-turned-publisher, on the past, present and future
Newscaster-publisher Tejeshwar Singh
“I was the one who announced the Emergency on Doordarshan.” In that booming voice, when Tejeshwar Singh declares this, he, despite that gentle smile, brings alive the lurking trepidations of those dark days of the 1970s. S
oon after this, he recollects, “I decided I would not continue doing it. So I quit Doordarshan. Though three years later, I returned and the relationship continued till 2003.”
Singh, having handed over his shares at Sage India Publications to its mother company in England some time back, has not actually hung up his boots. He is now involved in working out an efficient distribution network for supply of books across the country in consultation with distributors. And also, he heads a committee formed by Mumbai-based Marg Publications, once headed by Mulk Raj Anand, to “modernise and professionalise” the 60-year-old publisher of prestigious art-related journals with funds from Sir Dorabji Tata Trust.
Singh is now all keyed up for candid banter. Obviously, you want to take it from the beginning. His news reading days, the modelling stint, the publishing days and of course, life after Sage.
Stroking his beard, Singh remarks, “It was amazing. We became stars by just reading news on Doordarshan. We were mobbed on the streets.” He sees his modelling stint as a fall-out of this. “I did a few assignments like Dinesh Suitings and a complete failure of a product called Marmite,” he laughs.
Much later, in 1981, he was able to see himself on TV at home. “When Doordarshan, for the first time, did a live telecast of Wimbledon men’s singles final in 1981, I told my wife, it is time we buy it. Let’s see the match. So, a tiny black and white TV came home.”
Though Singh was fresh from Oxford University when he joined DD in 1974, he was no novice to news reading. “During my college days, I used to read news for AIR’s overseas section. Even while at Oxford, I had done news reading for BBC Radio for about nine months,” he recalls.
Getting down to talking about book distribution, he says, “A very good writer, Makarand Paranjpe used to complain about inadequate distribution of his books by Sage. Now, he has a publishing house. I met him the other day and he says, ‘Distribution is real tough.’ So one big issue for publishers today is the distribution network.” Sage, he proudly states, “is the only publishing house with a direct mailing list of thousands of names.”
Talking of things besides work, Singh reels back in time to a time when his “daughters were about six-years-old”. “It seems I had cooked something really nice when they were of that age. They still ask me to cook it, but I don’t quite remember what it was,” he relates, lacing it with his trademark smile. But he thinks he must have cooked something French. “I love French food. It is light. I try cooking it sometimes, but if you don’t get the same ingredients here, they don’t quite turn out the way you would like them to,” he says, counting on his fingertips the names of the few restaurants in Delhi that serve French food.
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
Send this article to Friends by