In India, "Hindu" signifies a vast religious universe, "The Hindu" the vast journalistic one -- 1.5 million copies sold every day -- of one of the nation's oldest and best English newspapers. In a time of widespread journalistic dilettantism, the Hindu is renowned for its commitment to public-spirited journalism and editorial integrity, merits that compensate for the tepidity of its presentation, the fustiness of its prose style and the rigidity of its left-wing orientation.
Two years ago, the family-run newspaper made a sharp break with tradition when it appointed someone outside the family as editor for the first time in almost five decades: the widely respected journalist Siddharth Varadarajan. Varadarajan was asked "to professionalise and contemporise the daily" to meet the expectations of a new generation of readers and advance the paper's plan to reach out beyond the Indian south, where it has long been the market leader. Varadarajan swiftly made many visible changes to the paper's design, brought a greater diversity to its editorial pages and a new sharpness to its investigative work.