Aroon Purie, chairman of Living Media group, has stepped down from active duties at the conglomerate, appointing his daughter Kallie Purie to handle operations.
In a letter to his staffers, the screenshot of which got leaked on social media, Aroon said he had already spent a little over four decades running the media outfit – it publishes a plethora of publications and runs news channels – and would now like to spend time in "strategic shaping of the group and exploring new opportunities."
He did not get into the specifics of his plan.
The flagship India Today magazine of the Living Media group was launched during the Emergency in December 1975 following a meeting at the York restaurant in Connaught Place in Delhi between Aroon, his sister Mandira Purie, writer Uma Vasudev and others. Vasudev was the first editor of the magazine, which was initially thought as an investigative journal but eventually turned into a news and current affairs fortnightly aimed at non-resident Indians (NRIs). Currently, the magazine has a 15 million plus readership and is ranked among the world's top publications.
"Aroon blended editorial with technology, creating the foundation of a world-class product. He is handing over the baton at a very appropriate time," remarked veteran photographer Raghu Rai, former photo editor for India Today.
Another senior editor of India Today, S Venkatnarayan said Aroon took some bold steps to prove his class and that of the magazine. "He got exclusive rights of Henry Kissinger's White House Years and, India came to know Kissinger and Robert Nixon hated India.”
Venkatnarayana said he and Aroon introduced opinion polls in India, started way back in 1979 by Cambridge-educated Dr Prannoy Roy and Ashok Lahiri, then teaching at the Delhi School of Economics. "Those were bold steps Aroon took to remain ahead in the race." India Today was the only magazine to predict a landslide win for the Congress in the 1979 elections.
Aroon's former colleagues called him one of the rarest newsmagazine owners who understood the importance of teamwork. "Kallie has a lot on her hand, else the magazine will slip like a Somerset Maugham story of veterans sipping wine and talking of yesteryears by the fireplace," remarked former India Today editor Inderjit 'Indy' Badhwar.
Quipped author Tarun Tejpal, who headed the desk at India Today for almost seven years: "Aroon is a reminder that empires are built not on battles but on wars. In a media world of increasing dazzle and flash, he has represented the classic virtues of stamina, skill and solidity. Most times one wishes the old guard world move on and leave the new to the young. But with Aroon one hoped he'd go with his boots on. Apart from the India Today group losing its central talent and its basic engine, one can't imagine Aroon himself getting through a day without a dozen cocky journos to argue down. I found working with him highly inspirations and an utter pleasure."