Melville de Mellow
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[ From the archives of the Times of India]
For 2 years, AIR icon’s widow denied 1.5k monthly pension
Melville left a legendary legacy in live commentary. He was a crowd-stopper commentator, who created a record and shot into fame by his moving non-stop account for seven hours from an AIR van on Mahatma Gandhi’s last journey from Birla House to Rajghat in 1948.
His account of Republic Day parades for years —in his inimitable baritone in impeccable English — is still remembered more than two decades after he passed away at the age of 76 in 1989. He had the ability of transporting the adrenalin rush of a thrilling hockey match between India and Pakistan to millions of living rooms where radio used to occupy a pride of place. The present generation mat have forgotten the excitement of live radio commentary and Melville’s gifted expertise in making listener watch the match through his voice. The authorities have forgotten that government had honoured Melville with Padma Shri in recognition of his services in AIR and Doordarshan. For 95-year-old fragile Coralie Emma de Mellow, every day is a struggle against red tape for restoration of a measly monthly pension of Rs 1,500, which was stopped less than two years after it was granted in recognition of her husband Melville’s iconic stature as a commentator and newscaster in the All India Radio (AIR).
Coralie fondly remembers her husband’s career from a lieutenant to an ace commentator in AIR. And she is so proud of her husband that she finds it awkward to beg for the paltry Rs 1,500 that was granted to her in March, 2008, by the government in recognition of Melville’s immense contribution to radio and TV in their nascent years in India.
But, her friends know how in her advanced years she needs this pittance. Advocate Brijesh Kalappa tried to impress upon her plight with Prasar Bharati, but was told that there was no provision for grant of monthly pension. He was promised that the Prasar Bharati CEO would try to release a lump sum amount for her. Even Congress MP and AICC general secretary Oscar Fernandes wrote to information and broadcasting minister on November 17, 2011, about the suspension of pension from January 14, 2010, and sought its early resumption. But, nothing has yielded results so far.