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English daily apologizes to Ilaiyaraaja for offensive headline

The New Indian Express newspaper, reporting on the government's conferring of the Padma Vibhushan award on the maestro, had used the headline 'Dalit outreach with Ilaiyaraaja's Padma'

Manigandan KR

The New Indian Express newspaper, a popular English-language daily, has tendered an unconditional apology to Isaignani Ilaiyaraaja for its distasteful headline on the maestro receiving the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, after it came in for widespread condemnation from various segments of society.

The newspaper, which ran a report about the government conferring the prestigious award on Ilaiyaraaja under the headline, 'Dalit outreach with Ilaiyaraaja’s Padma', faced a severe backlash with several members of the public, including celebrities, lambasting it for its poor taste.

The responses were sharp and swift. Director Venkat Prabhu, who also happens to be Ilaiyaraaja's nephew, tweeted an angry response, tagging the Indian Express newspaper instead of The New Indian Express.

Later, realizing his mistake, he put out another tweet that read, 'Sorry @IndianExpress for the wrong tagging!!! “The new” in their paper is so small as their mind!! Missed it!! @NewIndianXpress this aint journalism!!'

Others like the actress Kasthuri were not as polite. Social media was abuzz with a video clip of the actress spitting on a copy of the paper before tearing it apart.

After the sharp response, the publication, on its front page, carried an apology which was published under the title, 'Apologies, Maestro'.

The newspaper said, 'We apologize for a headline in our edition, dated January 26, regarding music maestro, Mr Ilaiyaraaja, being awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honour in the country. We wish to clarify that we did not mean to diminish his stature by any means. Mr Ilaiyaraaja is universally acclaimed for his singular achievements in the field of music and the recognition given to him is entirely on this account and no other factor. We deeply regret the wrong message the headline has conveyed – Editor.'