Seth Ram Kishen Dalmia bought Bennett Coleman & Co, publishers of The Times of India
and its other publications, in 1947. He wanted to have a subservient press to propagate his brand of Hinduism with cow protection and vegetarianism as top priorities. He hated Nehru’s agnostic socialism; in return Nehru hated his guts. I had a very brief meeting with Seth Dalmia. I had applied for the post of editor of The Illustrated Weekly
. He asked me one question: "Do you know Sanskrit?" I replied, "No, Sir, I don’t." He dismissed me curtly: "Go and learn Sanskrit, then come to me." I got the job 20 years later, without a word added to my Sanskrit vocabulary.
If Dalmia had his way, Bennett Coleman’s publications would be devoted to propagating his brand of Hindutva. Fortunately he got into severe financial trouble and had to give the publishing house to his son-in-law Shanti Prasad Jain, husband of his eldest daughter through Rama, the first of his six wives. It was Shanti and more his son Ashok who put Bennett Coleman back on its feet. Today Ashok’s widow Indu and...