A doyen that was T Mohandas Pai

10:30 AM Aug 01, 2022 | Team Udayavani |

“Vajradapi Kathorani Mriduni Kusumadapi…” is a famous verse from Sanskrit scholar Bhavabhuti’s work “Uttara Rama Charite”. It roughly means one who is as hard as a diamond but yet as soft as a flower. This description perhaps aptly fits T Mohandas Pai. Despite his strict demeanor, Pai was a softhearted person.


Such a stalwart figure is no more! As we mourn his passing, here’s a short snapshot of the businessman, visionary, leader, and above all a great human being that was T Mohandas Pai.

There were more challenges than opportunities when “Udayavani” began in 1970. Is it possible to run a newspaper from a Gram Panchayat area like Manipal? Isn’t it easier to get news published from Bengaluru? Several questions were raised. It was T Mohandas Pai, along with T Satish U Pai, who disproved these notions and brought out the Kannada daily that is now popular among readers across the state.

Mohandas Pai had the vision for the newspaper he helped start. He molded “Udayavani” as per this grand vision. With his constant attention, Udayavani grew into a newspaper that not only complemented the knowledge and language development of its readers but also created a sense of harmony between newspaper communities and attracted attention to the region’s development.

In the formative years of Udayavani in the 1970s and 80s, Mohandas Pai sourced different newspapers from distant areas like Bangalore and Hubli to study how news should be presented to the reader. With a view to never compromising on quality, these experiments snowballed to help Udayavani attract readers.  The newspaper succeeded in quenching its readers’ thirst for knowledge, all the while drawing the attention of the concerned government to the development needs of their region.


Mohandas Pai had amazing willpower to achieve anything he set out to do, says his brother T Ashok Pai. There was a press in Manipal from the early 1940s, but it printed small pamphlets. It was Mohandas Pai’s sheer willpower that prompted in starting a newspaper in a rural area of Manipal, with an offset machine. It was his vision and mission that Udayavani became the first newspaper started in rural areas to print using an offset machine, he fondly recollected.

Further, T Ashok Pai said that his humanism won Mohandas Pai the admiration of the employees. He knew every one of the then employees by name — from the printing press printer to the packer, and even the van driver were known to him personally. The canteen he started with the intention to feed the employees, especially those on night shifts, is still functioning opposite Manipal MIC, he added.

Mohandas Pai was known for his impeccable work ethic. “When he came to the newspaper office, he used to sit till 2 am. We used to bring him a copy after it was printed. Once someone’s portrait was misprinted. A few thousand copies had already been printed. He immediately stopped the press and ordered a reprinting with corrections,” recollected Aroor Gururaj who worked as a manager in Udayavani.

But, Mohandas Pai was also a strict disciplinarian. His warning on finding a mistake was final, said Aroor Gururaj.  Once an employee was smoking beedi in a department. Spotting Mohandas Pai walking towards him, he threw the beedi. Pai immediately pointed out two of his mistakes. “You smoked a beedi at the workplace that’s your first mistake. Throwing it wantonly was another mistake,” he had told the worker warning him not to repeat it.

There are a lot more stories and instances to prove Mohandas Pai’s mettle, fortitude, unwavering faith, and humanism. This short article can only mention a few of them. However, one thing is certain, the passing of T Mohandas Pai has left a huge void in the hearts and minds of his family members, admirers, and acquaintances.


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