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JANMABHUMI: A newspaper for Social Reformation and National Reconstruction
Kerala’s social, cultural and political scenario has got its own uniqueness and significances. Communalism coupled with pseudo secularism has gained an upper hand in all spheres of life, which in turn deteriorated the ethics and standard of social living. Though the people attained complete literacy and achieved social status in terms of material gains, the equations in public life became so rigid and pathetic that it leads to tension and unrest.
The reason for such a negative result visibly seen in Kerala is the orchestrated and organized media psyche which always targeted to defame and belittle the nationalistic and spiritual factors and movements in order to gain selfish motives.
Though the print media has a long period of service in publishing field, they generally keep away our culture, heritage, tradition and way of living and stood for protecting the interest of organised semitic religions. Hence Kerala became a fertile land for communalism, corruption, animosity, terrorism etc which got deep roots in social life. The vernacular newspapers utterly failed to single out or expose those elements which tampered with the secular and dharmic fabrics in Kerala.
The absence of a Malayalam newspaper as the mouth piece of true nationalism was the reason behind establishing JANMABHUMI. It became evident during the period when the print media turned its face away from true nationalism and began appeasing minorities. All attempts to strengthen Hindu values were termed as retrograde, reactionary and communal.
The general election of 1967 was a turning point in Indian politics. For the first time 8 states have elected non-congress parties to power and Bharathiya Jana Sangh began to emerge as a clear alternative to Congress Party. The Jan Sangh held its 14th All India Plenary session in Kozhikode in 1967 and proved to be a historical success in Kerala. At the same time a left lead coalition swept the Kerala elections and Congress was routed with its number reduced to single digit in assembly. The alliance of Indian Union Muslim League and the Congress cast a shadow of a new dangerous potent in the formation of Muslim minority district in Kerala.
The state council of the Jan Sangh held at Thalassery in 1968 considered a proposal by Sri. K. Raman Pillai, for starting a daily news paper in Malayalam. The discussion in this matter carried on at various levels. The All India Secretary of Jan Sangh Sri. P. Parameswaran, Sri. O. Rajagopal, Sri. P. Narayanan, Sri. K. Raman Pillai, Sri. U. Dathathreya Rao and Sri. K.G. Wadhyar interacted with many people. Freedom fighter Sri. K.V. Vittappa Prabhu possessed the declaration of the Rashtra Vartha, which he transferred to Sri. K.G. Wadhyar. Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan, present chairman of Janmabhumi who was a student of journalism at Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan institute held the responsibility of Rashtra Vartha.
Meanwhile at the initiative of Sri. U. Dathathreya Rao as chief promoter and Sri. C. Prabhakaran, Sri. Punnath Chandran, Sri. M. Sreedharan, Sri. K.C. Sankaran, Sri. V.C. Achuthan as co promoters, Mathruka Pracharanalayam Ltd was registered in January 1973 with the objective of publishing a Malayalam news paper. Subsequently the Rashtra Vartha was taken over by that company.
The intention of the promoters and other supporters was to make maximum participation of common men in the form of share subscriptions. Knowing that it was a very difficult and tiresome task sri. P. Narayanan was entrusted with this work. By the beginning of 1975 title JANMABHUMI was acquired from its owner at Thrissur and the necessary declaration was signed before the ADM Kozhikode. Sri. P.V.K. Nedungadi veteran journalist of Kannur consented to be editor, Sri. Dathathreya Rao printer and publisher and a few others as the staff sub editors and reporters took charge.
JANMABHUMI was launched as an evening tabloid from Kozhikode as on 28th April, 1975. Sri. V.M. Nair (Managing Editor, Mathrubhumi), Sri. Murkoth M. Kunhappa (Resident Editor, Malayala Manorama), Sri. V.M. Korath, Sri. P. Parameswaran and host of prominent personalities participated in the inaugural function.
In the first copy of editorial column it was explicitly declared that JANMABHUMI is a total independent national daily. It will approach each problem on the basis of national unity, moral sense, patriotism and public welfare and think, evaluate and formulate our opinion. To err is human and we also commit mistakes, our capacity is limited. We consider this as a small step to the noble cause and great moment and appealed the co-operation of all people.
Only a handful of members were working as staff. Within a very short period the paper caught the imagination of the general public. But within two months, the declaration of emergency rule fell like an axe on JANMABHUMI. The M.D. Dathathreya Rao, Editor P.V.K. Nedungadi and Sri. P. Narayanan were arrested by the police from their residence and kept under detention. Sri. Nedungadi was let of after a few days. Sri. Raowas jailed under the MIZA and Narayanan under DIR. Even though there was no ban on the paper the administration created conditions which did not allow to continue. Rao was severally beaten at the police station before charging under the MIZA. He was released only after the emergency was lifted. Narayanan was acquitted of all charges by the court and released after four months. After the restoration of democracy and establishment of a new government at the center efforts began to resume publication of JANMABHUMI from Ernakulam. A new decoration was signed before the ADM Ernakulam with Narayanan as printer and publisher and Sarvodaya leader Prof. M.P. Manmadhan as chief editor. Prof. Manmadhan was the chairman of the Jan Sanghars Samithy withich carried the agitation against emergency rule.
On 14th November 1977 JANMABHUMI was launched from Ernakulam. Noted educationalist and economist inaugurated the function held at the Town hall Ernakulam. The Veteran journalist Sri. M.K. Balagopal who was working in the Indian Express was associated with the editorial department. Once again Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan who was an employ of FCI was there to train a few youngsters who were new to the press world. Sri. K. Chandran who was working during the pre-emergency period took charge of the news desk.
JNAMABHUMI was a four page news paper with price tag of 0.25 paisa. Its financial base was not strong. The early journalists were not experienced and grew up learning the art and craft. After one year Prof. Manmadhan wanted to leave the responsibility because of health problem. Many veteran hands like Sri. Balaram Moosad, Sri. P. Narayana Kurup and Sri. I.K.K. Menon used to write regularly during the early period. After Prof. Manmadhan, Sri. P.V.K. Nedungadi became chief editor. Sri. P. Sundaram took charge as Manager and Sri. K.G. Marar took charge as MD, when Sri. Dathathreya Rao retired.
The printing of JANMABHUMI was in the old method of hand composing and sheet-fed printing. Printing technology was undergoing revolutionary changes. Under the initiative of P. Sundaram, a new company was formed; Ayodhya Printers Pvt Ltd and it acquired a plot at Elamakkara. All latest like photo composing and offset printing were installed there. JANMABHUMI was shifted to the new premises on 21st April 1987. JANMABHUMI was among the first few newspapers to have these facilities. The press and paper was inaugurated by the leader of opposition in the Parliament Sri. L.K. Advani, at a festive function which was attended by the top personalities of the press, politics and illustrious audience.
Sri. V.M. Korath who retired from the Mathrubhumi as Deputy Editor took charge as Chief Editor. Once again Sri. M.K. Balagopal was there with his worthy cooperation. Some youngsters were enlisted as trainee, sub editors who have shown their calibre in the field during the years to come. After one year Sri. V.M. Korath’s health failed and was not able to continue. So Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan took charge as Editor. When turned his attention towards social and religious matters Sri. K.V.S. Haridas who was associated with then paper right from the beginning and was employed in the judicial department was invited to be the Editor. Sri. Sundaram was allowed to be relieved from the press and the paper. Sri. P.E.B. Menon, Sri. P.P. Mukundan, Sri. K. Sadananda Pillai etc formed an advisory committee to guide both establishments, Sri. M. Mohanan was appointed general manager of both. Sri. M. Mahadevan formerly general manager of Dhanalakshmi Bank took charge as the manager of JANMABHUMI.
When Sri. Koroth finally relinquished charge as chief editor in 1993, Sri. P. Narayanan was given the charge. In 1995 when Sri. K.G. Marar passed away it was a great loss. There after Sri. P.P. Mukundan was elected as MD. He took initiative to expand the base of JANMABHUMI by starting new editions at the capital and Kozhikode. On 26th June 1995 Sri. L.K. Advani inaugurated a new evening edition at Thiruvananthapuram. Sri. K. Mohandas took charges as new editor in charge. Sri. N.S. Rammohan became the Managing Editor and Sri. T.M.V. Shenoy took charge as printer and publisher. On 21st March 1996 when a fire engulfed the Ayodhya printers, JANMABHUMI faced a big crisis. But the staffs of both institutions took challenge boldly and continued to bring out the paper without even a day’s break. With the heart felted help of well wishers the press was re started by commissioning a new machine which could print 12 pages. Photo composing gave way to DTP.
In January 2000 Sri. Narayan retired and Prof. Thuravur Viswambharan invited as Chief Editor. After a year Sri. Hari S. Kartha succeeded him. Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan once again took charge as Managing Editor. A new phase of expansion started. During this period Kottayam and Thiruvananthapuram edition came into existence. Sri. K.B. Sreekumar and Sri. K. Kunhikkannan were in charge of those editions. In 2003 colour printing was introduced.
The sixth edition of Janmabhumi from Thrissur was inaugurated on June 20th 2014 by the releasing the first copy by Sri. Prakash Javdekar, the Hon’ble Union Minister of I&B and Environment& Forest.
At present JANMABHUMI have six editions published from Thiruvananthapuram, Kottayam, Kochi, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Kannur.
JANMABHUMI is marching ahead towards its 40th year under the leadership of Sri. Kummanam Rajasekharan as Chairman, Sri. P. Balakrishnan as Managing Editor, Smt. Leela Menon as Editor, Sri. M. Radhakrishnan as Managing Director and Sri. K.B. Sreekumar as General Manager.
JANMABHUMI is in the forefront of the struggle against all anti national, anti cultural, anti human and especially anti Hindu tendencies anywhere. When some Christian missionaries planted a cross at Nilakkal near Sabarimala temple and claimed that it was planted by St. Thomas apostle, it was JANMABHUMI who exposed the conspiracy, which kick started a great Hindu upsurge under the leadership of Sanyasins. To suppress the agitation the UDF government took lathicharges and arrests under section 144. Sri. P. Narayan was arrested and charge sheeted. Sri. Kummanam was arrested and suspended from FCI which he fought against and got revoked legally. The government attempted to nominate a Christian convert to the Gurvayur Devaswam was exposed by JANMABHUMI.
JANMABHUMI brought out behind the curtain activities to acquire the land owned by the Hindus only to establish the Naval Academy at Ezhimala. The mysterious circumstance in which Chakannur Maulavi was eliminated was to the public by JANMABHUMI. When there was a plan to build a crematory very close to Thiruvananthapuram temple and Vaikom temple, and political parties shades the supported it, it was JANMABHUMI which supported local Hindu people in the struggle to stop the savilege. In the struggle of Swami Prakasananda in Sivagiri Madom issue it was JANMABHUMI who gave him unstinted support.
JANMABHUMI played a big role in the protection of the tradition of Aranmula village against the anti environmental mafia in the name of pseudo developmental activities like airport construction. All most all other media directly or indirectly were in favour of corporate big guns. But from the very beginning to until the ultimate aim JANMABHUMI was with the people of Aranmula to protect the environment and culture.
In the issue of protecting the wealth of Lord Padmanabha the stand taken by JANMABHUMI was very significant and it echoed the general psyche of the people of Kerala.
While other media running only behind the commercial culture JANMABHUMI alone is against the wind with commitment to the culture of land with the commitment to the nation.