Friday, 13 July 2007


One of the controversial secrets of Indian media popped out of the bag recently. And it seems to have missed many. Sure we’ve had rumours about this paper being funded by these interests and that paper by those.
But did you guys know this? IMPRINT, the magazine published from Bombay, which Rajan Narayan edited before his stint in Goa, was funded and a brain-child of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). For someone who claims inspiration from Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara, IMPRINT seems to be one heck of a place to further your career.
It also appears that revolutionary ideals paid pretty well those days. Rajan claims in his memoirs, that he was the highest paid young editor in the 70s earning a salary of Rs 4,000 a month. A journalist earning 4000 bucks in the 70s, anyone heard of that?
Ok laugh… But all this comes from the horse’s mouth himself. In an interview to award winning journalist Phillip Knightley, former India chief of station Harry Rositzke claims that IMPRINT was a ‘CIA operation’ in India. Rositzke died in 2002 at 91.
Philip Knightley met Rositzke while putting together a documentary on legendary spy British Kim Philby (legendary for his defection to the Soviets).
For those who wish to check or reconfirm the antecedents of IMPRINT, it’s all there on the web or look up Knightley’s book titled ‘A Hack’s progress’. We quote from an article on the web written by Krishna Prasad (try and take our word for it, this guy is credible and diligent. Look up his stories when you can) printed in the Deccan Herald

The faux shock over Congress and Communist leaders being on the KGB payroll pales in front of what the legendary investigative journalist Phillip Knightley reveals about CIA presence in ‘A Hack’s Progress’ (Roli).
In the 1960s, Knightley was working in what was then Bombay for what was then Imprint magazine. Its American owners had chosen to condense four or five bestsellers in each issue for Indian readers who couldn’t afford Western books.
One day, over vodka, Knightley strikes up an acquaintance with Igor of ‘Sovexport Films’ who lives in the next building, and soon they begin writing political articles on India for Soviet publications.
The first article is about the India Khrushchev wouldn’t see: poverty, prostitution, etc. Igor places it in a Soviet magazine with speed and a large payment arrives even faster. Knightley is alarmed and backs away from the cash.
Twenty years later, Knightley meets Harry Rositzke, former chief of the Soviet bloc division of the CIA, who reveals that Imprint was “one of my little operations”.
Why Imprint? The CIA had become suspicious about Soviet influence in India. The markets were flooded with cheap but beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated children’s books about Soviet folk heroes.
“A whole generation of Indian kids were growing up to believe that the only heroes in the world were Russian ones,” Rositzke reveals. “We had to get in there with some American folk heroes before it was too late.”
Imprint lent the cover for the CIA operation. Knightley’s pal Igor, believe it or not, was manning the KGB station next door!
And looks like it missed everybody.

Or read what Knightley has to say himself in the book.

"Sitting on the balcony (of? Bhaktavar building where Knightley lived in the 60's) one evening ...enjoying a quiet beer, I became aware that someone in the next block was doing the same thing..we nodded to each other and raised glasses.Then he called across the gap, "What are you drinking?". When I told him it was beer, he said ,"Come over and try vodka." I went down the lift , across the courtyard, up the lift? to the sixth floor where I noticed that a sign on the bell that I was about to ring said SOVEXPORT FILM.
Inside I met Igor- I never got to know his other name...ostensibly Igor represented the Soviet Film industry in India..."
Igor solicits articles from Knightley and gets them published promptly in Soviet magazine. Knightley eventually discovers that Igor is the KGB representative in Bombay.
"If I had been naive about Igor's intenstions," continues Knightley, "I was simply stupid about Imprint" (? a Bombay litereary magazine owned by an American couple and which was Knightley's employer)....I look back now over the early copies of Imprint I see that many of the books we chose to condense lauded the American way of life and painted a grim picture of the lack of freedom in the Soviet Union...."
Twenty years later, working on a documentary on the spy Philby he has lunch in Washington with Harry Rositzke, the former Soviet Bloc chief of the CIA who was the station chief of the CIA in India in the 1960's.? Learning that Knightley was an old India hand ,Rositzke asks Knightley what he was doing in India at that time and Knightley tells him about his stint at Imprint.
"I knew it well," Rositzke tells him." It was one of my little operations. Shake hands with your ex-boss."
"It was a shock to me," writes Knightley, "that , however unwittingly, I had been an employee of the CIA. Now Igor's attempts to recruit me made sense...he was after the employee of a CIA front..."

One thing we wish to maintain. The dope we have found here, clearly implicates the magazine IMPRINT as a foreign intelligence operation in India. This is the link which we are tying to Rajan Narayan. That he edited a magazine that was clearly funded and operated by CIA in the 60s. Rajan joined this publication in the 70s.
Whether he was in the know of it or not is an issue that could still be debated.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home