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శనివారం, జనవరి 22, 2011

A bow to this wielder of the Quill

(Photo caption - Journalist sri Sivalenka Sambhu Prasad 1911 - 1972)

‘Andhra Patrika’ is one daily that has enriched Telugu journalism. It is this publication, which has been the front-runner in the freedom struggle of people of Telugu-speaking areas in the 1900s. Though it was initially published as a weekly from Bombay on 1908 September 9th, it was in Madras the publication was turned into daily. From 1914 April 1st, ‘Andhra Patrika’ played a crucial role in journalism from Madras. Apart from the daily and the weekly, it brought out a literary and cultural monthly in Telugu called ‘Bharathi’. All these publications and the famous ‘Amruthanjan’ company were started and run by none other than that great freedom fighter and philanthropist “Desoddhaaraka” Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Panthulu himself. (In fact, his name is identified with the road and the park at Mylapore, near Luz corner). After his demise on 1938 April 11th, his nephew and son-in-law Sivalenka Sambhu Prasad took over the management of all the publications and ‘Amrutanjan’.

In a rare tribute, the building of the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists at Hyderabad is named Desodhharaka Bhavan, after Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Panthulu.

Trained under Nageswara Rao Panthulu himself, Sambhu Prasad (1911 – 1972) turned out to be a good journalist in Telugu. He efficiently ran ‘Andhra Patrika’ and other sister concerns for 34 years successfully. It was he, who brought a name, fame and the economic strength to the newspaper and made it into an inseparable part of Telugus in those days.

This is his birth centenary year. Sambhu Prasad was born in Elakuru on January 26th 1911 in the subsequent Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district, Gudivada taluq. He studied at Theosophical high school and later at National College, Machilipatnam. After that he went Santhi Niketan of Rabindra Nath Tagore and became a graduate there. Initiated into journalism by Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Panthulu, he first worked in ‘Andhra Patrika’ weekly. After the demise of Nageswara Rao Panthulu, Sambhu Prasad took the organization out of debts and made it self-sufficient with the help of stalwarts, including Ramnath Goenka. His interest and aptitude towards Telugu literature made the publications under him the finest of those times in terms of Andhra literature, culture and politics. He strove hard for the development of Telugus till his death and achieved success in fulfilling the dreams of his father-in-law.

He also started ‘Andhra Patrika’ editions at Vijayawada (from January 23rd 1965) and Hyderabad. Sambhu Prasad’s writings used to be enjoyed by readers. His editorials used to be thought-provoking. His satirical column ‘Padaka Kurchi Bhaavaalu’ (easy- chair musings) was a rage among the readers.

Sambhu Prasad was a member of the Rajya Sabha. At the time of his demise, he was a member of Andhra Pradesh Legislative Council. He served as a director of the leading news agency ‘Press Trust of India’ (PTI) and was associated with the ‘All India Editors Guild’. He died on June 8th 1972 in Madras. His mantle of journalism and ‘Amrutanjan’ was carried forward by his son Radhakrishna. Now his grandson, also named Sambhu Prasad, is looking after the ‘Amruthanjan’ company.

Though the publications from ‘Andhra Patrika’ group are no more, the spirit that they kindled and their pioneers Nageswara Rao Panthulu and Sambhu Prasad are ever-inspiring. They are assured of a niche in the socio-cultural history of Madras down from the Raj era.