Born in Darjeeling, the famous hill station of India in the foothills of the Himalayas,
grew up in the Avongrove Tea Estates, then managed by my father
K.K. Verma. A freedom fighter, nationalist and educationist,
he gave me the ideals one longs for. Self-esteem, self-respect and national pride was ingrained in my upbringing right from the childhood.
After completing Higher Secondary School with merit, I went to study Chemical Engineering. Those were the days in the late sixties when India was confronted with a myriad of problems, the most monstrous of them - the problem of unemployment.
Engineering graduates opening a tea stall for survival was a common phenomenon.
I gave up. I switched to Agricultural Engineering at the Jawaharlal Nehru Agriculture University at Jabalpur.
But, it was not my destiny. I suffered from incurable retinal detachment.
That changed the course of my life. I switched again to less strenuous study of Arts.
I received my Master's degree in History and then studied Law,
Fine Arts and Journalism. My quest for learning took me to Europe where I studied the functioning of newspapers in Germany, France, Britain, Switzerland, Poland, Denmark and Holland.
I began my career as an aggressive and conscientious journalist taking up the job of city reporter of Jabalpur's prominent Hindi daily "The Nav Bharat".
Later, I worked for the Press Trust of India (PTI), and edited several newspapers.
My editorials in the Hindi Daily 'Jai Lok' and
evoked a response from a senior Indian bureaucrat -"if ever an emergency is to be declared,
Jayant ! You will be the first whom we will have to arrest.
Your editorials are very radical."
Needless to say, that did not deter me.
Being an idealist, I could not tolerate the open exploitation of
journalists by the media magnates.
My study of law coaxed me to fight the illegitimate practice of
payment of wages to journalists.
It was a long-drawn battle. Besides cases of other journalists and newspaper workers, I fought my own case up to the Supreme Court.
This battle gave me an insight into the Indian judicial system
where legal recourse to redressal of grievances can take for ever.
Fight, fight, fight. This endless fight became the strength of my character.
Now I am fighting against these odds as the President of
Madhya Pradesh Working Journalists Union.
I also raise my voice as the National Council Member of the
Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ),
founded by none other than Chelapathi Rao, whose writings as the Editor of The Pioneer forced leaders like Nehru to change the national policies.
That is only one forum. I am also engaged in educating the tribals and fighting for justice to the people displaced by the construction of huge dams on the river Narmada, which flows only a mile away from my home in Jabalpur.
I am not alone. People like Dr. B.D. Sharma, formerly a senior member of the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) and ex-Vice Chancellor, and internationally acclaimed activist Ms. Medha Patkar, are spearheading the movement what is now known as
Narmada Bachaao Andolan (Save Narmada Movement).
This environmental movement is perhaps more important than any movements launched by organisations like Green Peace.
As Chief Editor of the "Neeti Marg",
I raise my voice against anti-people policies, especially from the point of view of the Indian constitution. I want the people to wake up, fight for their constitutional rights: I want the legislators to be fully aware of their constitutional duties,
and I want the policies in favour of the people of India who have been oppressed, exploited and ignored for decades, if not centuries.
The fight is on. And as Robert Frost said
......and miles to go before I sleep,
the fight will go on.