Ramnath Goenka was a courtier, with dashing army of reporters, who refused to play according to the wishes of King of France and instead used his counsel to chose his battles and masters, if at all required, according to the situation. He can be aptly described as a man of extremes, unbundled restless energy, a patriot in his own right considering his heroic defence of emergency and a manipulator of his newspaper chain. Goenka was like William Randolph Hearst or Lord Beaverbrook, an old style newspaper baron who never caved in under pressure and relished in power play and games of politics. Goenka tirelessly built ‘The Indian Express’ out of nothing and a humble marwari bania became a wizard in political chess and a maker or breaker of governments.
The king of newspaper owners constantly waged his fortune on any cause that took his fancy. Adversity brought best in the man who always believed that the end victory justifies the means employed.
Under him The Indian Express stood up against tyranny of emergency, rule of Sanjay Gandhi calling for freedom of press, firmed up opposition or Jan Sangh against single party rule of Congress, fought against market manipulation by Reliance, brought Bofors issue to the forefront and infact was the first to rake up Sonia Gandhi angle in Indian politics.
Over and above all Goenka was his own man who befriended and rallied against politician as and when it suited him.
When with Congress he gave Feroze Gandhi a job as an favor to Nehru, broke away with Congress when it spilt, flirted with RSS & BJP, used rift between President Zail Singh and Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi for his advantage and propped up VP Singh as prime ministerial candidate only to turn against him when Singh became one. The most amazing part of the story is he always got away with all this and was also admired by many for doing it in the first place. Despite Goenka driving out fun from sacking editors, esp. of The Express and The Statesman, working in his newspaper was considered adventures and many willingly took the bait.
At personal level Goenka was warm and human, demonstrated greater courage in face of great odds and remained loyal to his friends like Rajmata Gwalior and Nusli Wadia.
Interestingly, all facts of Goenka’s life have been touched upon in the authorised biography, even when some of the issues donot show the subject in a favorable light. No doubt ,Goenka was a great figure of 20th century India and for this reason this entirely enjoyable ,fair and truthful tomb must be read. A sure shot bestseller.