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Nair, Thackeray and the Free Press Journal

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And of course the fearless doyen of Journalism - S Sadanand
Recently I came across an address which mentioned an A B Nair Road in Juhu, and I was a bit mystified. I did know about the Nair hospital in Bombay, but that was related to one A L Nair. Then I discovered that there was a place in the same Juhu area called Nairwadi.  I was even more intrigued by then and set about finding the story of the person behind the name.  The road from that discovery took me through so many stops, and connected me to the Free Press Journal, a pioneering newspaper, the legendary Sadanand, journalists like TJS George and HV Kamath, MKB Nair and even more well-known people like the cartoonists Bal Thackeray and RK Laxman. I read articles purportedly detailing the causes of Bal Thackeray’s hatred of Madrasis and in between all these famous characters I found A B Nair too, to conclude that he was certainly a person of interest. Let me try and take you through that journey in words.
The story actually star…

Hicky, Maria and Warren

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The travails of Hicky - the ‘Papa of the Indian press’
So many events converged to destroy the life of this hapless character, a bloke named James Augustus Hicky of Calcutta. The Nuncomar case, the ill-gotten gains of Maria - the lovely wife of Warren Hastings, the machinations of Phillip Francis and his paramour Catherine, the fury of Elijah Impey - the chief justice of the Supreme Court and most of all, the ire of Warren Hastings, the Governor General. Hicky was unfortunate to get involved with all these illustrious people though he went about it craftily and with gusto, by bringing out his own newspaper and speaking often and publically about their misdeeds.
We will get into some amount of detail as we go on, and to set the scene, we go back in time to the environs around Fort Williams of Old Calcutta, where the British EIC had established themselves following the black hole incident and the Battle of Plassey. The period we will get to covers the last three decades of the 18th cen…