N Ram, editor-in-chief of the family-controlled Hindu newspaper, has stepped down from his position in the wake of a dispute among family members over management of the business.
Besides relinquishing his role at the flagship Hindu, owned by holding company Kasturi & Sons, Ram is also stepping down as the editor of sister publications, including Business Line, Sportstar and Frontline.
The move is a result of a year-long public feud among members of the controlling Kasturi family, following a decision to stop family members from holding editorial positions at the publications. Ram, a fourth-generation member of the family, stepped down after eight years at the top position of the family business.
He will be succeeded by different editors at the group’s various publications. Non-family Siddharth Varadarajan will be editor of the Hindu, D Sampathkumar will head Business Line, R Vijayasankar will become editor of Frontline, and Nirmal Shekar is to run Sportstar.
“I am happy that we are able to do this as part of an orderly and well prepared process of editorial succession and induction of young and fresh professional blood at the top,” Ram told Indian publication Business Standard. The 66-year-old will continue to remain a director of Kasturi & Sons.
Naming non-family Varadarajan as the successor in July last year – the first step in professionalising editorial operations – was met by protest from family members, including Ram’s brother Ravi, who claimed he was supposed to take over as part of the original succession plan.
It led to the resignation of three family members from editorial positions at the 133-year-old newspaper, founded as a weekly in 1878 and becoming a daily publication in 1889, but they remained directors of the holding company.
Kasturi & Sons has 12 board members and roughly 50 shareholders, who are all members of the Kasturi family. Four cousins, along with their families, each own 25% of the company.
The Hindu has a circulation of around 1.4 million as of December 2009 and a readership of 4.06 million. Started by four law students, the group moved to the Kasturi family’s ownership in the 1900s, when Kasturi Ranga Iyengar bought the then declining newspaper.