My friend Inder Malhotra (Inderji) rang up from Delhi this morning. He has done well for himself since leaving. The Times Of India, though, had he stayed, he would have been the editor-in-chief today. Still, he has got a colums in the Times for life, or for as long as he wishes to write, which fetches him as much money as he was getting as salary (though minus the perks) when he was working with the paper.
Plus, he writes for other publications, is the correspondent for the London Guardian, has finished a book, started on another, travels widely on invitations and stays at residences of ambassadors everywhere, according to one of his recent columns.
Being a freelancer is big business in Indian jorunalism today. Who wants Ambani's hiked-up salaries!
Kuldip Nayar was making a near package before he went off as high commissioner to England. That is a reward from a grateful government that a journalist would like to have, not Padma Shris and Bhushans and seats in the Rajya Sabha. Kuldip's syndicate extended from the major English papers to language papers and newspaper in Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Khushwant Singh also syndicates his articles and he has already been rewarded with a seat in the Rajya Sabha. He also travels a lot and always on invitations. And he writes in detail about his travels: "Go up at 6 a.m. and listended to a cuckoocuckooing in the cherry blossom tree. Had breakfast and went for a walk in the Hyde Park. English women were sunbathing with their skirts up to thighs."
When Girilal Jain retired from the Times, it was thought that he would also syndicate his column, which definitely would have been far more analytical thought provoking than anything written by anybody else. Mr. Jain has the rare privilege of being read regularly by successive prime ministers.
Unfortunately, for reasons known only to Mr. Jain, he has chosen not to write. Though, of late, he has been writing for a paper called The Sunday Mail, which is like writing for a paper called The Independent.
Nihal Singh also runs a syndicate. But being the perfect gentleman, he is discreet and selective about the papers he writes for M.V. Kamath is the opposite, he writes for anybody and everybody, and he produces columns by the hour.
Who makes the maximum money? With Kuldip Nayar temporarily out of the field, it is Khushwant Singh. But the person who gets paid the maximum per article and per word is Sunil Gavaskar. And good luck to him.