Epochal journeys have, at times, commenced with a single hesitant step. The birth of the Gujarat Media Club is the best example of this age old adage. Like the perennial mist in the mountains, the fact that Gujarat was perhaps the only state which lacked a press club, rankled most of us who traveled cross-country and braved the barbs of our better endowed cousins housed in less gifted states. Either it was the sheer lack of a heady bonding agent for community outpourings or the self perpetuating business credo epitomized in the ‘maru shoo’(what’s in it for me) culture, the state somehow never got to have a press club in over four decades of it’s existence. Again this was not for lack of effort. Many, including the founder president, tried on numerous occasions. However the singular efforts for a media collective remained elusive. The last such effort almost breasted the tape but in the final reckoning it remained a case of so near and yet so far.
The proverbial last straw that broke the camel’s back was the attack on mediapersons in Ahmedabad while they were covering a sensational court proceeding of a sting operation by a TV channel in which a magistrate had issued bailable arrest warrants against President A P J Abdul Kalam, Chief Justice of India V N Khare, a sitting apex court judge B P Singh and senior advocate R K Jain with some lawyers acting as middlemen. Mediapersons who went to the court to cover the proceedings after the channel had aired the sting were assaulted by lawyers in the court premises on January 29 and 31, 2004. In a spontaneous outpouring of anger, one hundred and twenty nine mediapersons petitioned the Supreme Court seeking it’s intervention. A three judge bench of the apex court headed by the then Chief Justice V.N.Khare took the plea as a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) and issued notice to the Gujarat government, State Chief Secretary, it’s Director General of Police and the Ahmedabad Police Commissioner. The assaulting lawyers were chargesheeted and the Gujarat Criminal Bar Association tendered an apology in court for the assault.
It was in the aftermath of this united stand that a group of questioning, young mediapersons decided not to allow this fruit of unity to remain an isolated example. They resolved to take it further to it’s logical conclusion moved by the fact that if an emotive issue can weld the fraternity temporarily, a greater professional and social interaction through a stable platform would cement professionals as well as their families in a closer bond.
It was on March 25, 2006 that the ginger group got together at a roadside coffee shop to turn the germ of a thought into a banyan tree initiative. Many a brainstorming sessions later the principle framework of the Gujarat Media Club emerged from the recesses of the mind to acquire a finite form. Gripped by visions of the tortoise who came from behind to overtake the hare, the late starter Club decided to fast forward into the future and so opted for naming the new entity as a Media Club instead of the archaic Press Club so that the name was in keeping with the evolving form.
After studying all the models before us, it was a conscious decision to opt for a section-25, not-for-profit company. This was done to ensure both transparency and accountability. It was also decided that the founding fathers should prove their commitment beyond any shadow of doubt by contributing a sum of ten thousand rupees each to build a corpus for undertaking the initial spadework to set up the Club. It was also decided that all the expenses incurred in every meeting leading up to the actual formation of the Club would be borne by the founding members individually and not passed onto the fledgling set up. It was also resolved that the membership fees will be kept in fixed deposits in nationalised banks and will not be used to meet the day to day expenses of running the Club.
The first of September 2006 was a day that brought cheer to all those working hard to make the club a reality. It was on this day that we received a licence from the Ministry of Company Affairs under section 25 of the Indian Companies Act, 1956. This, in effect, paved the way for the Club to obtain a certificate of incorporation. It was on September 22, 2006 that the Registrar of Companies, Ahmedabad issued a certificate of incorporation and the GMC came into being as a registered not-for-profit company.