ISWARA DUTT: AN EMINENT JOURNALIST
Sri Kunduri Iswara Dutt served as a journalist with diligence and dexterity for more than four decades in various capacities viz., as Sub-editor, Assistant editor, Editor and Chief editor of various English daily new papers in India. He touched the peak of his journalistic career when he became the Chief Editor of ‘The Leader’, an English daily news paper, run from Allahabad which was previously edited for more than three decades by the famous liberal leader and Late minister for education in the United Provinces viz., Sir C. Y. Chintamani. Sri Dutt performed the duties of Publicity officer in Jayapur, the Princely state and Public relations officer in Hyderabad state, when Sir Mirza Ismail served both the states as their Diwan. Iswara Dutt was acclaimed as a popular writer and Journalist for his writings “Sparks and Fumes” “My Portrait Gallery” etc., by the Indian as well as foreign writers and editors especially by famous writers like A.G. Gardiner, Spender, Garwin, and Masingham.
Iswara Dutt was born on September 27th 1898 in Rajahmundry a cultural town in East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh. His father Sri. K. Venkataratnam was a popular Head Master of that area and a true Gandhian, who taught English Grammar to his son Iswara Dutt and his friend Sri. Kotamraju Rama Rao, the first editor of ‘The National Herald’, an English daily from Lucknow started by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
Iswara Dutt was educated in Rajahmundry and Machilipatnam and obtained B.A. degree in 1923. Sri. Dutt evinced interest in Journalism as a college student. He was joint editor for a typed magazine viz., “Fresh men’s Magazine” when he prosecuted his studies in the Noble College, Machilipatnam.
He started his career in journalism with “The Independent”, an English daily run from Allahabad. Later he worked as Sub-editor for a month in “The Swarajya” an English daily started from Madras by Andhra Kesari Sri Tanguturi Prakasam. He had a stint with “The Voice of India” an English daily edited by Pothan Joseph. He once again entered “The Swarajya” as Sub-editor when Sri Khasa Subba Rao and Sri G.V. Krupanidhi were on the editorial board. Sir C.R. Reddy the renowned Vice-chancellor and a great educationaist invited Dutt to work in his office which he reluctantly did for a few months. While he was in “The Swarajya” he wrote 12 sketches on eminent freedom fighters and intellectuals in “The Swarajya” which, he later published as “Sparks and Fumes” and it brought him recognition as an author.
Sri A. Ranga Swamy Aiyangar, the renowned editor of “The Hindu” invited Sri Dutt to join him as Sub-editor which he readily accepted in September 1929. He used to send monthly reports as ‘Madras Letter’ while in Allahabad from April 1930. Sri C. Y. Chintamani invited him to join “The Leader” as Assistant Editor. Sri Iswara Dutt was the Assistant Editor in it for more than three years during which period he wrote a good number of articles and contributed several features on the national struggle, but the relations between Dutt and Chintamani were strained due to publication of an article in ‘The Leader’ eulogizing the editor of ‘The Hindu’ Sri Ranga Swami Aiyangar on his demise.
After a few days of the event, Sri Dutt resigned his post in ‘The Leader’ and started independently a monthly journal ‘Twentieth Century’ a periodical which he ran successfully for twelve long years from 1934 to 1946. It was a popular monthly journal for which the great national leaders and intellectuals Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru, K.M. Panikkar, Humayun Kabir, Sir C.R. Reddy, Radha kumud Mukherjee, M. Chalapati Rao, Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya, Hiren Mukherji, K. R. Srinivasa Ayyangar, Sri Prakasa, Sri. K.S. Venkata Ramani etal., contributed their articles. Sri. M. R. Jayakar complimented the journal. “It had done wonderfully well”. Sir C.P. Rama Swami Aiyer called it “One of the best conducted magazines of its type”. Sri. K. Natarajan praised it as “a reliable and weighty exponent of Indian thought and culture”.
The Maharaja of Pithapur Sri Suryarao Bahaddar, with an intention to contest 1937 General elections, had started The People’s Party for which he required an English daily news paper namely “The Peoples Voice” to propagate the ideology of his party. Sri Iswara Dutt was appointed as its editor which was run for one year during 1936-37, but it was wound up with the defeat of the Maharaja in 1937 elections. M. Chalapathi Rao, an eminent editor of ‘The National Herald’ started his journalistic career in ‘The Peoples Voice’. When the news paper was wound up Iswara Dutt returned to Allahabad to continue his monthly magazine ‘The Twentieth Century.’ And Chalapathi Rao was accommodated in “The Week End” which Dutt had started exclusively for the benefit of Chalapati Rao.
In the year 1938, Dutt edited “The Pioneer” twice, when its editor went abroad once and the second time when its editor Sri J. Natarajan resigned.
Sir Mirza Ismail, the Diwan of Jaipur princely state, in 1942 invited Dutt to work with him as Publicity Officer in Jaipur. Iswara Dutt worked for four years as Publicity Officer. During that period he gave unstinted co-operation to Sir Mirza Ismail in all matters relating to public relations. He started a fortnightly “News Letter” which reflected the ideas and ideology of the Diwan. A literary forum by name “ATHENAEUM” was established under Dutt’s chairmanship which became famous for its dissemination of knowledge and Indian culture. More over he conducted an All India Conference on library movement, a political science conference and a ‘PEN’ conference.
When Sir Mirza assumed charge as Diwan of Hyderabad state, Dutt was again brought to Hyderabad state service as Public Relations Officer. He joined the new post in September 1946 but the conditions in Hyderabad were not favourable either to Sir Mirza or to Sri Dutt as the Nizam Mir Osman Ali Khan, supported by Khasim Razvi, wished to transform Hyderabad into an Islamic Kingdom. Due to unfavorable conditions in Hyderabad, Sir Mirza left for Mysore in May 1947 and Sri Dutt resigned the post in July 1948, after nineteen months of service.
Later in September 1948, Iswar Dutt joined “The Hindustan Times” as its Assistant Editor. During this period he edited the important news items in the evening edition, magazine section, the week end on several items. He wrote a good number of articles in the paper on politics and persons found in the news. During this period he helped the management in the establishment of a good reference library and arranged the paper clippings for reference and research. Due to his efforts, the Hindustan News Paper reference books library became well equipped and reckoned as the best of the Libraries in the Indian News paper offices.
Iswara Dutt was one of the founder members of the Journalists Association of Delhi in 1949. He was its President during the year 1952-53. During his tenures, he took a number of steps for solving some of the problems of the journalists and passed resolutions condemning the police atrocities on journalists and photographers in Calcutta. He was present before the first press council on behalf of the association to high light the problems of the journalists.
Iswara Dutt was at the peak of his career when he became the chief editor of “The Leader”, which was previously edited by Sir C. Y. Chintamani for more than three decades, but he could not continue for more than 15 months due to lack of proper cooperation from K. C. Sharda, the Director-in-charge of the paper. As a result Sri Dutt resigned its editorship and left in April 1955 and his resignation at the appropriate time improved the image of self respect of the journalists.
After leaving Allahabad, Iswara Dutt returned to Delhi where he started “The New India” a weekly, which he edited for a few months. The critical and analytical commentaries on parliamentary deliberations of Iswara Dutt were broadcasted from All India Radio, New Delhi for a few years. He had started writing the history of the Indian National Congress by name “Cyclopedia” and a part of it was completed before his sudden demise in 1967.
Iswara Dutt was the staunch supporter of British Liberalism. The prominent traits of his character were intellectual honesty, sincerity, diligence and fearlessness. He never cared for the position when his personal honour was in jeopardy. He resigned the chief editorship of the English daily. “The Leader” when he was not allowed a free hand to conduct himself as editor. He possessed a good personal library which was well equipped with books on journalism, literature and history. He prepared the paper clippings which he used for writing critical essays on various topics.
He was a good conversationalist. While he was with his friends taking lunch or dinner across the dinner table or under a tree, he used to engage them with a language full of literary flavour and fragrance with epithets and epigrams, paradoxes and quotations which made them listen to him in rapt attention. His wife Smt. Anasuyamma was a good cook who used to prepare tasty food to the guests. As a versatile writer and a good man Iswara Dutt lives in our hearts.
“Narah Patita Kayopi yasah kayena jeevati”