About Suresh Nautiyal
A strong votary of vegetarianism and compassion towards all life on earth, Suresh Nautiyal is a staunch socio-political activist since 1974 and a Delhi-based senior journalist with wide experience in agency, print and electronic journalism. Over the years, he has been maintaining a fine balance between activism and professionalism. When he acts as a professional, his activism hardly influences him. And, when he is in the activist-mould, he keeps at bay his profession. This is hard to believe, but those who know him well understand how he has been doing this all these years. Besides, he is a conservationist, poet, playwright and scriptwriter. Being a creative soul, Suresh’s firm view is that the place he encounters creativity most often, is in his own mind.
When Suresh had just entered his 11th standard in 1974, he came in contact with the prominent Delhi-based Uttarakhand activists like comrade Bhavanand Sharma Baluni, Pratap Singh Bisht and Mathura Prasad Bamrara. This was the turning point in his life. Henceforth, the cause of Uttarakhand became a passion for him and from that day onward he never ever tried to look back. Suresh was quite convinced that formation of a separate hill state of Uttarakhand was the only answer to the gigantic problems of those people living in Uttarakhand and the ones who were forced by the circumstances to migrate to the plains.
Simultaneously, he proactively associated himself with several organisations committed to the cause of Uttarakhand. Also, he engaged himself in the activities of community development and socio-cultural aspects of the Himalayan people.
During his Delhi University days, he got himself enrolled as member of the All India Students Federation (AISF), affiliated to the Communist Party of India (CPI). He parted with the AISF after coming in close contact with H N Bahuguna, one of the tallest political leaders born in Uttarakhand, and became his staunch follower.
When Bahuguna along with his followers was considering to launch a new party in Bombay, now Mumbai, he organised an enthusiastic team of cyclists to go to Mumbai traversing cities and villages through the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra with the sole aim to propagate his and the proposed party’s ideology. Suresh was the natural choice for the job and was elected as the team leader of more than 30 cyclists. Bahuguna expected him to lead the group in the manner the great explorer Columbus did.
On way to Mumbai, several team members, exhausted, gave up and decided to return. Some of them who still remained determined to accomplish to objective, raised the voice of revolt against Suresh complaining poor arrangements. But, Suresh had the chemistry to manage them. In fact, he took them into his confidence and got their support throughout the journey. In fact, the team was become cohesive, understanding and united.
The money Bahuguna had given, was exhausted just halfway, in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The journey could not be completed with empty bellies. In such a situation, Suresh showed that he was a true leader. Without surrendering to the adverse circumstances, he managed food for the whole team till it reached Mumbai no matter at times he had to virtually beg for the sake of his colleagues.
He was elected unanimously as the first Convener of the Uttarakhand Pragatisheel Yuva Manch, Delhi, in early 1980s but soon was ejected from the post by the vested interests without keeping him informed.
He took active part in the union activities while with the United News of India (UNI) and was elected to the post of Secretary with record votes.
He had joined the UJSV, after he came in contact with comrade PC Tiwari. Soon, he was appointed as the Chief Spokesperson of the organisation.
Though among a select few who believed in the non-violent nature of the Uttarakhand movement, he was the only prominent activist who was criminally assaulted by the fellow activists as a ‘reward’ for his insistence for propriety in public life.
He is among the founder members of the Uttarakhand Patrakar Parishad, established with the aim to bring under its umbrella the Uttarakhandi journalists in Delhi working for different news organisations and steer them towards the betterment of the Uttarakhandi society as a whole. He was appointed one of the first four secretaries of the organisation and at a later stage, was elected as its Vice-President.
In 1994, he compiled a huge volume, Uttarakhand: A Study, Assessment & Proposal (In Geographical, Economical & Administrative Context), for a Dehradun-based social organisation, Drive for Himalaya's Anthropocentric Development (DHAD). The 350-page book is considered not only an authentic and exhaustive volume on the Uttarakhand Movement, but also a landmark in the history of the Movement.
Suresh Nautiyal is among those pioneering six activists who decided to initiate an indefinite dharna or sit-in in August 1994 at the Jantar-Mantar Chowk in the national capital of Delhi for mounting pressure on the Centre to grant statehood to Uttarakhand. He was among the founders of the Uttarakhand Andolan Sanchalan Samiti (UASS). In fact, the very name was coined by him and was elected its Spokesperson. The UASS constituted of mainly three organisations, namely the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), the Uttarakhand Jan Sangharsh Vahini (UJSV), and the Uttarakhand Jan Morcha (UJM). He represented in the UASS as a representative of the UJSV along with others like Pratap Shahi.
He was instrumental, along with another activist Chandan Negi, to encourage the women activists from Dehradun (including prominent activist Kaushalya Dabral) to seize the Prime Minister’s Residence on Race Course Road so that the focus of whole media was once again diverted to the Uttarakhand Movement. The women activists had successfully carried out the operation.
He was also instrumental, along with his senior colleagues of the UASS, in opposing the intervention of the extremist outfits like ULFA and Sikh Federation, who tried to influence the Uttarakhand Movement with their ulterior designs. The ULFA and the Sikh Federation had approached them to extend their clandestine support to the Uttarakhand Movement with the purpose of turning it violent and against the Indian State.
The three meetings with these organisations did not produce anything as they were told in firm terms that the Uttarakhand Movement was committed only to the formation of a new hill state within the parameters of the Constitution of India and within the Indian State. Also, the representatives of these organisations were told that their aspirations did not match with the aspirations of those who were fighting for the cause of Uttarakhand. They were even asked what cause they were pursuing if they had their respective states within the Indian State.
Suresh, along with senior activists and leaders like Rajendra Dhasmana, Dr Shamsher Singh Bisht and PC Tiwari, helped in shaping the Uttarakhand Jan Sangharsh Morcha consisting of several Uttarakhand organisations. He also wrote its constitution and played a pivotal role in holding several meetings at different venues. However, the idea could not click with the leaders and it had to be abandoned.
In 1996, prior to the historic announcement regarding formation of Uttarakhand by the then Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, he along with several of his colleagues joined the UKD at Rishikesh. Later, he was appointed as the Chief Spokesperson of the party, a responsibility still being carried out by him.
The UKD leadership also entrusted him with the responsibility of re-writing the Constitution of the party and frame new rules for the membership. The Constitution with certain amendments was accepted and hailed as a secular and progressive document of the party.
Founded a workers’ trade union in the Observer (India) Ltd, a news organisation owned by the Reliance Group. He was among the firsts who showed courage to establish a trade union in a company owned by the Ambanis. The silver-line is that all previous attempts to form a union at the Observer were either failed or foiled. However, it was his leadership that enabled the workers to form the union, The Observer India Employees Union, successfully. Eventually, he was elected its first President. He resigned from the post only when some of the colleagues wanted to pursue some other line.
Suresh Nautiyal formed The High Hiller, a Delhi-based socio-cultural group of Uttarakhand people, in 1981. Two years later, in 1983, his first Hindi play, Ek Aur Aayam, was staged at the AIFACS theatre in New Delhi. He himself directed the play based on the burning issue of migration of hill people to the plains. The group, now called The High Hillers Group, is still going steady with its successful performances.
Till January 2001, he worked as a Special Correspondent with the Political Bureau of a daily, The Observer of Business and Politics, published simultaneously from New Delhi and Mumbai. He had joined the newspaper as Correspondent in 1994 and was attached to the features section.
Before switching over to The Observer, he was with the Univarta, Hindi Division of the United News of India (UNI), which he joined as a Trainee Journalist in the first half of 1985 and after completing successfully his one-year training period, was appointed as a Sub Editor. Subsequently, he was promoted as a Senior Sub-Editor. During his tenure with the largest Hindi news agencies, he also performed the responsibility of shift holding and covering the proceedings of Parliament.
The Univarta Editor, HV Pandey, appointed him as head of the Language Standardisation Committee, which recommended changes in the language of the news stories and adoption of the actual names, corrupted by the wrong English pronunciation. He resigned from the agency in 1993 on his own with a brighter future and greener pasture in mind.
Prior to this, he served as Sub-Editor/Reporter with a political weekly, Pratipaksha, edited by senior political leader, George Fernandes, during 1984-85 for a brief period.
Before his brief stint with Pratipaksha, he was associated with different publications on voluntary basis.
After resigning from the UNI, he freelanced for various prestigious publications such as The Times of India and The Pioneer and kept alive his association with the News Division of the national TV network, the Doordarshan (DD), with which association dates back to 1985. As a Guest Editor with the DD News, he acquired valued experience of compiling news bulletins and writing scripts for the news and featurish stories. Later, he was also empanelled as a Guest Editor with the Hindi News Division of the All India Radio (AIR).