The great editor of Himalayan proportion
When I was asked to ‘write something’ on our founding editor — as I was among one of the first seven trainee journalists of The Himalayan Times (THT) — the one and only question that popped on my mind was, ‘What would be the word limit?’ But in retrospect, it would not matter really because all the pages in this supplement and all the words in my vocabulary would neither suffice to put my thoughts about Ram Pradhan in writing nor adequately justify what he meant to the paper or the people who had the privilege of working under his leadership.
Ram sir, that is what we used to call him, may have meant a lot of things to a lot of people. But for me personally, he was a mentor, a friend, and even a father figure. I may seem biased in my opinion, but my reasons to hold him in such high regard is not unfounded because while every individual will have wonderful things to say about the one person who moulded their career, I am one of the lucky few who can truly say that I always felt THT was my ‘home away from home’. And I accredit it to Ram sir, who made me feel I belonged here.
I still remember the initial years — the long and endless working hours, the stress to meet the deadlines and finally the indescribable satisfaction of seeing my name on the paper for a deserving story. And yet, there were always those lingering doubts about my own capabilities — whether I was a good enough reporter, especially at the face of uncertainty that surrounded the newspaper in the beginning. During those times, it was Ram sir’s belief in me that quelled my worries and motivated me to carry on.
In the editorial marking the first anniversary of THT titled ‘Working with the young’, Ram sir had mentioned that it was the young men and women who stood behind him that gave him the confidence that the enterprise called THT was here to stay. But if I were to speak for the team of the young people, I would say it was his relentless push for us to continuously strive for better, his patient mentoring and unshakable faith in our ability — and most importantly on us — that gave us the confidence to withstand each and every adversity that we chanced upon. In line with our editorial policy of ‘fear none but be fair’, we dreaded nothing, except perhaps getting a memo from Ram sir if we were slagging in our performance.
Simple as our goals were — good journalism, professional handling of issues and constant awareness of public’s right to know the truth — the feat of guiding THT to the position of number one daily was nothing less than worthy of a standing ovation. They say nothing is constant in this world, except for change. And while a lot of things have changed over time, a number of things have remained the same in THT. His assurance in the first edition of THT in 2001 to our valued readers and advertisers about our commitment of constant improvement still stands. In fact, the ship of THT is still steering ahead with every crew vying to further enhance the paper.
William Shakespeare has been quoted as saying, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” I am at dilemma about which category he falls under, however, there is little doubt (and here, I speak on behalf of all the people whose lives he touched in THT, if I may) that Ram sir truly was a ‘great editor of Himalayan proportion’ (that is, how he liked to refer to himself). In our lifetime, we meet a lot of people. Mostly we remember them by what they were. But in case of Ram sir, I would like to remember him for what THT became because of him — a great newspaper.
Much of what I learnt and what he taught me has influenced me so much that it has even governed my personal life to some extent. I have tried to live (to the best that I possibly could) by his ‘no-regret’ disposition. Yet, I cannot help but have one — that our plans to meet up never materialised.
— Prashannaa Chitrakar
Special Projects, THT