The first couple in the Indian Parliament were also the most hospitable couple

December 6th, 2007 - 2:19 pm ICT by admin  

By I.Ramamohan Rao New Delhi, Dec.6 (ANI): Ah another Manglorean in Delhi.welcome son. That is how Joachim Alva ushered me, a complete stranger, into his home on Ferozeshah Road. The year was 1956; it was still the age of innocence. Joachim called in his wife saying Violet, meet this young lad from my home town.
I had heard of the graciousness of this first couple of the Indian Parliament, but that balmy winter day, I experienced their hospitality first hand. A charming couple, they asked me what brought me up north and when I told them that I was working with the Press Information Bureau, they evinced keen interest in my work. Being fellow journalists, they were encyclopedic in their knowledge of current affairs. Those were interesting times. the nineteen fifties.
In the forties and fifties, if you wanted to keep yourself posted with political developments in the country, the only journal you could turn to was the FORUM, which was edited by Joachim Alva.
A student of St Aloysius College, Mangalore, Joachim had enrolled himself in St Xaviers Bombay, but his independent attitude did not find favour there in the rigid atmosphere of St Xaviers. He was expelled from St Xaviers for moving a resolution to throw open the doors of the Catholic Union socials to all students.
He moved to the more liberal Elphinstone College and the nearby Government Law College in Bombay. At the Law College, he met Violet, who besides being his college mate became his life partner as well. He a Manglorean Catholic and she a Gujarati Protestant. Not an easy decision to take then, but they knew that they had found soul mates in each other and that the times were changing.
I was a regular reader of Joachim Alvas FORUM, which was a much sought after magazine at the Lighthouse library next to the St Aloysius College in Mangalore. We knew the paper was raided for publishing seditious material against the British Government in 1944. We were very proud that an alumnus from our college was making a name for himself in the world of journalism. Mangalore then was a small town.
Like Alva, I too moved from Mangalore to the neon lit city of Bombay and then to New Delhi where I joined the Press Information Bureau.
The offices were not in the multi storeyed Shastri Bhavan where it is located now, but in P block hutments where the Rail Bhavan is situated now. The Sapru House library was where journalists hung out those days. Of course, those were pre-Google days, and so, one had to research with actual books. Joachim Alva was seen there often mingling with journalists, just like one of them. He did not have any airs about him, there was no gleaming sarkari gaadi waiting in the porch for him. He stood in line like the rest of us and walked to his destination like the rest of us.
Violet and Joachim had two sons, Niranjan became a lawyer and Chittaranjan became a journalist. He retired as a senior editor of the Financial Express. He has been an active member of the Indian Federation of Working Journalists and a founder member of the Indian Journalists Union. His wife Padma is with the Press Trust of India.
Niranjans wife Margaret Alva joined politics and is a Parliamentarian. Her children run Midtech, a television software company. Three generations of Alvas have been part of the media world of this country. (ANI)

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