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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 6 New Delhi January 30, 2016

Letter to President

Saturday 30 January 2016, by Nikhil Chakravartty

The following is the text of the letter that the Editor of Mainstream sent to the President of India on January 27, 1990 detailing the reasons for his inability to accept the Padma Bhushan award conferred on him on Republic Day that year.

Editor Mainstream  New Delhi-110003
Ph.: 697419

January 27, 1990

The President of India


On my way back home today after an extensive tour abroad, I find that you have conferred on me Padma Bhushan on the occasion of the Republic Day. I am deeply touched by this honour for which I am grateful to you and those who have advised you. If I may add, this has come to me as a total surprise as I was never sounded beforehand about it.

At the same time, I face the difficulty in accepting the award no two counts, First, I was one of those who had supported a move in the past to abandon this practice of announcing annual honours lists which hardly fits with the concept of a democratic republic. Moreover, these awards in recent years have sometimes been coloured by narrow party considerations.

Secondly, I have personally come to realise that journalists having to be engaged in constant interaction with political leaders should try to avoid being identified, in the public eye, with any particular establishment. This has become all the more imperative today when political life in our country has become sharply polarised. For over 47 years now, I have endeavoured in my modest way to honestly serve this vocation of a communicator without fear or favour. And it is this personal philosophy of mine which impells me, in all humility, to decline this award conferred on me.

May I reiterate that I hold you in the highest esteem and I am therefore sure you will not misunderstand my inability to accept the award that you, on the advice of your government, have announced for me.

With my deepest regards for you,

Your respectfully,

(Nikhil Chakravartty)