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TIME on India, Pakistan
The Times of India, January 31, 2016
How America did a cover job on India & Pakistan
Gandhi was killed on Jan 31, 1948 but Time magazine didn't have him on its cover. A look at the personalities who made it, and those who missed out
India has been a source of endless fascination for American journal ists and writers going back to Thoreau and Twain in the 19th century.In fact, newspaper editors of the time would have stumbled on to rich pickings if they had dispatched someone to cover events in India -a country that was forever in ferment during the early years of Indian nationalism. As it turned out, it wasn't till the 1920s, when magazines began to boom in America, that attention turned towards personalities from India with a concentrated coverpagefocus.It is Rabindranath Tagore who holds the honour of being the first Indian to grace the cover of an American magazine; he featured on the cover page of The Mentor magazine in May 1921 with his story, The Woman. Tagore had travelled through America thrice by then, and his 1913 Nobel for literature had made him a familiar figure in literary circles by the 1920s. In 1929, Mahatma Gandhi became the first Indian to grace the cover of Time magazine, which itself was founded in 1923. Gandhi made three Time covers in all: the first in 1929 when Time featured a drawing of him looking rather fiendish despite a caption that said “Saint Gandhi“. The next one a year later sees a kinder, gentler-looking Gandhi, while a third Gandhi cover came in 1947, shortly before India's independence. Time did not put Gandhi on the cover after his assassination in 1948 (as it did with both Indira Gandhi in 1984 and Rajiv Gandhi in 1991), probably because January 31 was too close to the deadline for its February 2, 1948 issue. But Newsweek, founded in 1930, did put Gandhi on the cover on February 9, 1948, with the very trite caption, “After Gandhi, What?“ The February 2 Time cover is of Barbara Ann Scott, a Canadian figure skater who won a gold at the Winter Olympics. The February 9 Time has the story on Gandhi's death but no cover mention; the astronomer Hubble is on the cover. Gandhi's political heir Jawaharlal Nehru was a Time favourite, making the cover of the magazine six times between 1942 and 1964, the most by anyone from the subcontinent before or since. In between, Time also featured assorted Indian political personages on cover, including Subhas Chandra Bose, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Acharya VinobaBhave. The odd man out: the Nizam of Hyderabad, who featured on the Time cover of February 22, 1937 as the `Richest Man in the World' -the Bill Gates of that era. Quite notably , Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah did not make the cover of Time, although he made the cover of Life magazine, as did Gandhi. In fact, few Pakistanis have made the cover of western magazines: apparently, they do so only when they wage war or inflict terrorism. Both Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan, perpetrators of war in 1965 and 1971, featured on the cover, not solo but along with Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi respectively . Pakistan as a country has made the Time cover several times but always in a poor, negative light: Why the US is stuck with Pakistan (May 23, 2011), Pakistan's Despair (Sept 20, 2010), and Pakistan's Dark Heart (January 16, 2012) are some of the more recent chronicles of bad news. Benazir Bhutto did make Time and Newsweek cover several times, but by then the magazine had Asian editions (Newsweek even has a Pakistan edition now) so she was jettisoned from the main US cover page. In fact, one of the Bhutto covers put her in a negative light, asking if she had stolen billions or was being smeared. Similarly , Pervez Musharraf did make Time cover in 2002 but only in the Asian edition. Ditto Nawaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari, and Imran Khan. The one Pakistani man who did make Time cover in all editions (US, Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia) was the nuclear smuggler A Q Khan -under the headline “The Merchant of Menace“ on February 14, 2005. Talk of infamy . It wasn't until Malala Yousufzai's courageous stand on education that a Pakistani made it to the cover of Time in a positive light -and for her efforts, she was promptly banished from Pakistan.