The Statesman House of Kolkata will turn into a mall, say rumours. The daily survives, but will the aura, the memories, the great tradition? We will miss yet another great media institution.
Institutions grow as slow as trees, but not as surely. Of all the renown that an institution gathers around its age, there are sacrifices and more emotions than any owner of the institution can imagine. A media house is like that; The Statesman of Kolkata is like that. The magnificent Statesman House in the city of the Raj is becoming a mall, we hear, and it hurts. Media houses are repositories of history, of our past of our pains, happy times. Newspapers have, for ages, chronicled each and every move of humanity, of governments, of the people. In short, it encapsulates the history of a nation, even a city. Destroying that history is a criminal act. Whoever is responsible of breaking down this repository of history should be called as such.
The Statesman has been one of those great houses of our country. To quote Laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore, it was where “The mind is (was) without fear and the head is (was) held high…” Alas, no more, it seems.
There has to be a mechanism of preserving such places. Just a heritage tag on the external structure is a sham. The mall-builders, whoever these shady people are, will not be able to destroy the facade, but everything inside will be torn down. Just like the Metro cinema hall, in that same city was done in, resulting in just another of those dime a dozen malls. The hall represented Metro Goldwyn Mayer in that city. It was a part of heritage. The external facade stays, while inside it is a hollow shopping mall.
The Statesman’s ownership of thousands upon thousands of rare photographs seems to have been lost. That is criminal too. Isn’t the government responsible for preserving our history? That is the question.