The IWPC is a dream come true for the founder members because there were many initial hurdles to cross but it became a reality within three months of our efforts to form a women journalists’ press corps. It has survived these 25 years and has grown from strength to strength.
I was very impressed with the Washington National Press club when a friend took me there in February 1994. It was a great professional organisation. When I came back, I casually mentioned this to Coomi. She was quite enthusiastic and took the initiative immediately to sound a dozen other women journalists in Delhi. It took some time before she collected 18 signatures including that of Usha Rai, Rashmi Saxena and Mrinal Pandey. We had a second meeting at Usha’ s house where she served us delicious upma and tea and took it to the next level. In the third round, it concretised further. We were clear that the new body would not be called a club as it was meant to be a professional body. We ultimately agreed on the name Indian Women Press Corps.
Then, Rashmi found a lawyer who drafted the constitution of the IWPC and it was registered. Mrinal Pandey, the then editor of the Hindustan became the first president, Rashmi the general secretary, Coomi joint secretary and I became vice president. Most founding members were elected to the managing committee.
Incidentally, how we identified 5 Windsor Place was quite interesting. It was sheer luck that we found the present IWPC premises. One day Coomi, Saroj and I while walking around after lunch found 5 Windsor Place vacant. We thought how nice it would be if we could get that bungalow for our organisation. Our next stop was the CPWD office in the Feroz Shah Road right across where we got more details about the place.
Then we sought a meeting with Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. The Prime Minister immediately telephoned to the then housing minister Sheila Kaul and asked her to allot the identified bungalow for the IWPC. He also asked PVRK Prasad, his Press advisor, to coordinate.
We came back elated but there were other hurdles to cross.
Mr Tripathi, the then private secretary to the Housing minister was creating problems and would not give vacant possession as he was using it for some other purposes. Ultimately Prasad had to threaten him so that he fell in line.
Then came the question of who should be invited to inaugurate the new organisation. We zeroed in on the then Vice President K.R. Narayanan, who graciously agreed to come. IWPC came into existence formally and the rest is history.
However, a lot of credit goes to the first office bearers of the organisation who went all out to get the place decorated, setting up a library, a good running kitchen and finding nice furniture etc. etc. The IWPC has evolved since then in these 25 years with many successive presidents and office bearers contributing to the growth of the organisation.