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TIME magazine: Changing editorial perceptions
TIME, a weekly news magazine was pioneered in 1923 by Henry Luce. Famous for its red border, it became the largest news magazine and spawned 'red border' journals, all over the world. It gained further in popularity, by annually publishing a cover story: TIME 'Man of the Year'.

Not only TIME readers started the annual speculation, as to who the 'Time Person of the Year' would be, but the world media too went for a spin, trying to guess - 'Who?'

In 1930, Mahatma Gandhi first appeared on the cover, as the 'Man of the Year'. He appeared thrice as the 'Man of the Year'. Einstein closely beat him as the 'Man of the Century' in 1999.

As our family subscribed to the magazine, I have been a reader of TIME from my school days. During our freedom struggle, TIME was very supportive of our cause. But after partition, they became very partial to Pakistan and scoffed at India, all the time.

Once, the editors very gleefully published a letter, which was very abusive of India. There were many signatories apparently Indians, who had authored this tirade against their own country. As the issue hit the stands in New York, the Indian consulate rang up the editors: They had been taken for a ride! The 'names' of the signatories were actually, the choicest Indian 'gaalis' (four letter words)!

The magazine quickly withdrew the copies on the newsstand, and blacked out the names of the 'signatories' on the copies, which were still being rolled out! That they still left the fake latter untouched, was an indicator of their anti-India stance.

In the 70s James Keogh, the then chief editor of TIME, and his wife came to India. He was also the speech writer for President Nixon. I had the occasion to meet them at our Junior Chamber of Commerce, Bombay. He spoke on TIME's news gathering mechanism, through their world wide stringers. He explained how TIME editions are released all over the world, on the same day of the week! This was due to their worldwide network of presses, to whom the whole issue was electronically conveyed, including the cover art work. The digital era had not yet dawned, but they managed their logistics amazingly.

He narrated how the 'Ugly American' had become a byword for behaviour of Americans abroad: Being ignorant and arrogant!

He realised that as the Chief Editor of an international magazine, he could not do justice to his job, without knowing the world first hand. Since then, every year he and his wife visited a new country, to know the people and cultures, better.

When in New Delhi, Keogh sought an interview with Indira Gandhi. The appointment was promptly given. He thought that as the chief editor of TIME, Indira Gandhi would be overawed and eager to meet him. He was in for a surprise! She kept him waiting. She was rightly annoyed at President Nixon. During Bangladesh War, he had sent the US Seventh Fleet to Bay of Bengal, to threaten India and in support of Pakistan. Keogh came out a sobered person, after her terseness.

Keogh was frank in his narration to us about the interview. That was exactly his purpose in travelling every year to a new country and region.

However, a charming Fijian girl gave the self-confidant Keogh a shake up, about the place America occupied in her world view!

As editor, his first visit abroad was from New York to Melbourne, with a hop over in Fiji. At the airport lounge in Suva, the Fijian hostess asked Mr and Mrs Keogh, whether they will stay for a while in her country, Fiji? He breezily replied, 'No, we are on our way to Melbourne. Fiji is just a re-fuel stop'. She enquired, 'Where do you come from, Sir?' She thought for a while and then wondered: 'New York, New York! Now where is it! Isn't it a re-fuel stop of our flight from Fiji to London!'

In between, Narendra Modi had been on TIME cover in March 2012, when he was still the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The cover caption read - 'Modi means business, but can he lead India'.

Again, in another cover story in 2015, on Modi, the caption read – 'The world needs India to step up as a Global Power. One year in, can Prime Minister Narendra Modi deliver?'

The world is watching and so are we!

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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