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Amrita Tripathi
Tuesday , June 06, 2006 at 11 : 37

Missing the Wood for the Trees


Right now, there's no denying it, the big news is Mahajan Jr's fall from grace. Though the powers that be have of course known all along about young Rahul's propensity for the wild life, it's only now that he's relatively defenceless that it's a free for all. That and the fact that his unfortunate fall occurred in full view of the entire fourth estate. That couldn't have helped.

But even more tragically, Indian publishing has just lost one of its stalwarts. Ravi Dayal...in memoriam.

Ok first off, I admit, I'd only spoken to him twice, and both times he blew me off as some sort of pesky fly (or media type) but nevertheless, Mr D was so much a part of the publishing establishment in this country, despite being a one-man army,

The bidi/jhola/legendary gentlemanliness were as much a part of his image as the discovery of authors...not least of all a young Amitav Ghosh, who may never have been published. I think it's beautifully symbiotic that Ghosh kept Ravi Dayal as his Indian publisher long after making it huge.

And whatever your thoughts on the subject, it's hard to argue against the fact that Ravi Dayal single-handedly discovered or created, rather, the St Stephen's School of Literature. The whole she-bang.

So even apart from those who knew Mr dayal personally, undoubtedly a huge hole has blasted through the country's publishing wall. I don't know why the image that comes to mind is the young Dutch boy sticking his finger in the dyke to prevent indundation...

A tad melodramatic, maybe, but then again, hasn't independent indian publishing been fighting this losing battle, in the face of increasingly commercialised behemoths? Who'll don the mantle now? Rukun Advani and Permanent Black? And what happened to Civil Lines - a project Dayal headed with Mukul Kesavan?

Ravi Dayal may not have got too many column inches or made too many headlines, but I think it's a great sense of loss and many probably feel it without even knowing it...not least of all, readers cross the country.


More about Amrita Tripathi

Amrita Tripathi is a news anchor with CNN-IBN, and also doubles up as Health and Books Editor. An MA in Philosophy from St Stephen's College, Delhi University, she has also taught a few undergraduate classes at her alma mater, informally! When she is not tracking health issues, Amrita is busy chasing the literary dream. Her debut novel Broken News was published in 2010. Before joining CNN-IBN, Amrita worked with The Indian Express.



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