Jaldi 5 with Gurbir Singh, Chairman, Press Club Mumbai: We’ll engage with those who’ve expressed grievances

28 Jul,2014

Other  than his skills as a senior journalist Gurbir Singh is perhaps better known in media circles as the man who transformed the Mumbai Press Club from a dingy watering hole to a happening spot for scribes to meet, greet, drink and work. In the recent past, the Club has often been activisty and taken up issues concerning journalists. However, there was a section of journalists – mostly from television channels – who felt that the Club was discriminatory against them and wanted Mr Singh and his Progressive Democratic Alliance panel out. At the elections held on Saturday, two PDA candidates were defeated and Gurbir Singh himself won with a slender margin of 9 votes.


Prakash Akolkar was elected as President. Gurbir Singh was elected Chairman with Kumar Ketkar as Vice Chairman. Rajesh Mascarenhas was re-elected as Secretary. Abhijit Sathe was elected Joint Secretary while Mrityunjay Bose was elected unopposed as Treasurer. The following 10 candidates were declared elected to the Managing Committee: Santosh Sakharam Andhale, Santosh Bane, Preeti Sompura, Dharmendra Jore, Om Prakash Tiwari, Ayaz Memon, Ashish S Raje, Ajit Joshi, Sudhakar S Kashyap and Anahita Mukherji


Excerpts from an interview with the victorious Chairman of the Press Club Mumbai:

01. Your views on the elections of Saturday… Happy with the results given that, save two contestants, all your panel members have won?

I take the overwhelming support for the election win as a humbling vindication of the path of growth we have followed over the last decade. It is not only a better Club with more facilities that we have delivered, it is the transformation of the Club into an institution that stands for sharply defining our profession and providing a voice to it. This has resonated with our members, who have repeatedly chosen us to lead since 2002.


02. The television journalists were upset with your dispensation. Your victory margin of just nine votes being an indicator of that. Comments?

I have been around for a long time, and perhaps it is time to pack up and leave. When you are there for so long, there are some feathers that are ruffled, and there are mistakes we make. All that added up to shades of anti-incumbency. With the TV journalists, as a community they have come recently to the Club. Some of them have felt a step-motherly treatment vis-a-vis print journalists; it is not justified, but some perception like that gained ground. We may have made some mistakes too, and I hope we can remedy them. After all, the Club must stand with all journalists on an equal footing.


03. Now that it’s all behind us, do we see you meeting some of the demands put up by your opposition. Especially the TV journalists’ lobby?

Yes, we are very much in touch with the TV journalists; in fact two very active TV journos have been elected on our panel – Preeti Sompura, bureau chief of TV9 and Sudhakar Kashyap of IBN Lokmat. We will engage with those who have expressed grievances; we’ll try and understand their problems and solve them.


04. While you are undertaking the task of a new Club building, the Mumbai media is now located across the city. Would you at some time consider having ‘satellite’ club premises in, say, Bandra and Navi Mumbai/Thane?

Satellite clubs in Navi Mumbai and the western suburbs have been talked about, but there are no concrete plans yet. Land is always a difficult problem in this city, so we will have to wait a while. Meanwhile, we will concentrate on adding to the size and facilities at the existing location in South Mumbai. This will help us host more members and activities and provide more revenue.


05. On a lighter note: the Press Club was closed for Pest Control on the day after polling (and the results). Coincidence? Too many pests in the system

Yes, the Press Club needs to be cleaned out occasionally of the pests that have occupied our chairs and crevices. If we don’t get rid of the vermin, those being bitten will blame us. We don’t want unhappy bottoms!


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