Eminent journalist VP Ramachandran, who had an eventful career as a reporter with news agencies -- Press Trust of India (PTI) and United News of India (UNI) -- and a stint as the editor of Mathrubhumi daily, passed away at age 98 in Kochi on Wednesday, May 11, his family said. He breathed his last in his residence at Kakkanadu.
Ramachandran, popularly known as VPR, had also held the post of the chairman of the Kerala Press Academy in the 1990s. VPR, who procured a job as a teleprinter operator in the news agency Associated Press of India (API), started his profession as a reporter with PTI in 1949 in Assam and worked in several places including New Delhi and abroad during his career spanning many decades.
From Assam, he was transferred to Mumbai as an editorial assistant. While India was preparing for its first election, VPR was posted in the national capital. Under his leadership, PTI constituted an election desk to cover the election process all over the country.
Later transferred to Pakistan, VPR maintained personal relations with leaders like General Ayub Khan, the then Pakistan military chief and former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, etc. VPR also reported the Indo-China war from the warfront itself.
He joined UNI in 1964 as bureau chief and later became its deputy general manager. His reports on Parliament proceedings and international affairs were models. He excelled in the field of investigative journalism too. World leaders like US President Richard Nixon, and Idi Amin of Uganda were interviewed by VPR, Kerala Media Academy said in its website.
During the Emergency period, VPR was reassigned to the industrial city of Ranchi. His reports from Ranchi gave a new phase to development journalism.
In 1978, VPR joined Mathrubhumi as executive editor and later its Editor, after the demise of K P Kesava Menon. VPR left Mathrubhumi in 1984. In 1988, he joined Kerala Press Academy as the Director, Institute of Communication and later was made the Chairman. In 2013, the state government had selected VPR for Kerala's prestigious journalism award for his outstanding contributions in a career spanning several decades.
He was born in Vadakkencherry in Kerala's Thrissur district in 1924. VPR is survived by his daughter Lekha. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan condoled the veteran journalist's demise.