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Issue No.: 570 | December 2014
 

M. V. Kamath: A Personality Sketch

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Madhav Vithal Kamath (93) or MV Kamath as he was better known was an eminent journalist, writer, thinker, philosopher and, at the time of his death on 9 October this year, Honorary Director of the Media Studies Department at Manipal University.

I had known him since the late fifties as his nephew Dr. Suresh Kamath was my classmate in NKES High School in Wadala. I had countless interactions with him particularly after I joined teaching in the 1960s, until recently. 

In his personal letters, M. V. Kamath always addressed me as PM and invariably signed as MV. Hence, what is my assessment of MV as a person? In the brief write up here, I wish to bring out only two prominent characteristics of MV based on my long interactions with him.

First, he had definite political opinions but kept them close to his heart until the right time. I have formed a general theory that when you constantly teach a subject you tend to make certain primary qualities of your subject the object of study. Having studied politics for the last sixty years, I often try to search whenever others interact with me their political motives! As a senior journalist, as MV was, he dealt with many top politicians in the country and abroad; hence, acquired all behavioural traits of politicians!

Let me illustrate this point. After my initial interactions with him in Bombay, I had the good fortune of interacting with him in Washington, DC. For about 15 months in 1976-1977, I was also there as a Fulbright doctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies; MVK was there as the correspondent of The Times of India. We met over lunches, dinners and evening teas and at public meetings. Often we discussed the National Emergency then declared by Mrs. Indira Gandhi and as a teacher already with 16 years experience I told him all that we in the Bombay University did to oppose the imposition of emergency and my continued opposition to it. He on the other hand, told me of all that the opponents of Mrs. Gandhi did to destabilize the country. He appeared to me to be a supporter of emergency and Indira Gandhi!

I returned to India in late 1977, while he came back the following year to join as the editor of the Illustrated Weekly of India. In his writings he appeared to me to be closer to the Janata Party Government! I happened to meet him in his office and asked him about the change in his approach. He simply told me that being in Washington, DC he was not privy to domestic developments!

The NDA government appointed him as Chairman of the State-owned TV media Prasar Bharati. He was a BJP supporter. He had published a biography of Narendra Modi then Chief Minister of Gujarat. My friends in Manipal informed me that the BJP government under Narendra Modi had offered him a governorship. But he declined on health grounds. Thereby I missed an opportunity to visit him in a Raj Bhavan and enjoy a royal reception!

The second observation I make about my friend MV was his anti-Americanism. Again, he is no exception to this attitude as those who specialize on America and have spent many of their productive years in the US, as I have done, tended to be critical of that country. But as a trained American specialist, I have also written and spoken on many good things that the US has given to the world. But MV was uncompromisingly anti-American; maybe he spent a longer span of time abroad and under the influence of John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State and his Cold War thoughts.

I had invited him to deliver an inaugural address at an international seminar I had organised on the Reforming and Restructuring the UN. Not only was he very critical of the US but also advocated Asian nations breaking off from the American dominated UN and setting up a UN of Asia. Of course his anti-Americanism arose from his intense nationalism.

DR. P. M. KAMATH is a former Professor of Politics, University of Bombay, and currently Honorary Director, VPM’s Centre for International Studies Regd.) and Adjunct Professor, Department of Geo-politics and International Relations, Manipal University, Manipal. 

Freedom First SALUTES THIS DOYEN OF INDIAN JOURNALISM REFLECTING IN HIS WRITINGS THE DIVERSITY THAT IS INDIA! – ED.

 
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Between Ourselves

Between Ourselves

 

Obituary

M. V. Kamath: A Personality Sketch

 

Remembering Rajaji

The Wit and Wisdom of Rajaji

 

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