BRP Bhaskar: A Legendary Journalist Remembered

BRP Bhaskar

BRP Bhaskar, a distinguished journalist known for his unwavering dedication to truth and justice over a remarkable seven-decade career, was commemorated at a web-meeting organized by the Vakkom Moulavi Memorial Research Centre (VMMRC). Writer MN Karassery highlighted Bhaskar’s role as not just a journalist but also a philanthropist and democrat who bravely exposed societal and governmental misconduct, prioritizing character over career.

Sahitya Akademi President K. Satchidanandan praised Bhaskar as a beacon of integrity amidst contemporary political turmoil, commending his fearlessness, honesty, and compassion. Senior journalist MG Radhakrishnan reflected on the irreplaceable loss for Kerala, noting Bhaskar’s significant contributions throughout his extensive media career. Former JNU Professor AK Ramakrishnan acknowledged Bhaskar’s unique role in Kerala’s human rights struggles and his maintenance of a vibrant public sphere.

Dilli Dally editor S. Gopalakrishnan emphasized Bhaskar’s relevance in Kerala society, attributing it to his free-thinking spirit, unbounded by any ideology. In contrast, many contemporary intellectuals are confined by their chosen schools of thought, mistaking this comfort for a conscious choice. Bhaskar, however, lived an unrestrained life dedicated to serving Kerala society, embodying a civic character crucial for the state today. Gopalakrishnan urged the Malayali community to draw courage from Bhaskar’s legacy.

A. Suhair, Chairman of the Vakkom Moulavi Foundation Trust, highlighted Bhaskar’s humility and erudition. He recalled Bhaskar’s frequent reminders of the symbiotic relationship between Vakkom Moulavi and his editor Ramakrishna Pillai, an uncommon dynamic in the media industry. Suhair also emphasized Bhaskar’s strong ties with VMFT, his sincere participation in its functions, and his dedication to its activities.

The commemoration featured several eminent personalities, including writer Sunitha Balakrishnan, former Kerala Council for Historical Research director PJ Cherian, Delhi Jamia Millia Professor Mathew Joseph, Sameer Munir, Joseph Antony, Muhsin, Mathew Kurian, and writer Khadija Mumtaz, with the event presided over by K.M. Seethi.

BRP was also serving as a patron of the Vakkom Moulavi Memorial Research Centre.

BRP’s Profile

Bhaskar’s illustrious career in journalism extended over seven decades, during which he worked with prominent national media groups such as The Hindu, The Statesman, Deccan Herald, and United News of India (UNI). Born in Kaikara, near Vakkom, Kerala, on March 12, 1932, to M K Bhaskar and Meenakshi, Bhaskar began his journalism journey by writing articles under a nickname for a newspaper owned by his father.

He formally entered the media industry in 1952 by joining The Hindu. After gaining experience with other media groups, including The Statesman, he joined the national news agency UNI in 1966, where he served as bureau chief in Jammu and Kashmir and Kolkata. Later, Bhaskar took on the role of media advisor for the state-based Asianet news channel for a few years. Although he retired from active journalism in the 1990s, he remained engaged in social issues as a human rights activist and was honoured with the prestigious Kerala Sahitya Academy Award.

Recalling the challenges faced by Indian media and journalists, Bhaskar remarked in an interview two years ago that he saw no reason to link the attacks on journalists to either the UPA or NDA regimes. He noted that these attacks were typically carried out by goons or musclemen of vested interests, upset with journalists who exposed their wrongdoings. Recently, these vested interests have been targeting right-to-information activists more than journalists, viewing them as a greater threat. According to Bhaskar, central governments tend to use more sophisticated methods to control the media, such as pressuring media bosses to rein in overenthusiastic journalists. He said that it was usually easy for a government to use news agencies to promote its interests, as these agencies often rely on government financial support. However, “the Modi government has taken a different approach. Instead of supporting traditional news agencies, it is withdrawing their financial backing and allowing them to decline, while patronizing a new agency.”

Bhaskar’s illustrious journalism career was marked by numerous accolades, most notably the prestigious Kesari-Swadeshabhimani Award. This honour highlights his steadfast dedication to courageous and truthful reporting, which he consistently upheld with the highest integrity.

A significant aspect of Bhaskar’s legacy is his relentless advocacy for human rights. He was actively involved in various social movements, unafraid to challenge and critique governmental policies. His fearless mission to speak truth to power earned him widespread respect and admiration. Renowned for his profound intellect and strong convictions, Bhaskar continued to write and speak out courageously, even in the face of adversity. His work and principles have made a lasting impact on journalism and broader societal issues.

The world has lost a beacon of fearless journalism but, as many speakers at the remembrance meeting said, BRP Bhaskar’s contributions and the spirit he brought to his work will continue to inspire and influence future generations. His unwavering dedication to truth and justice will be remembered and cherished by all who were touched by his work.

K.M.  Seethi is a retired professor of Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala

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