Chris Mayor. Photo: ANDREW PERRYMAN

In a residential aged care home in Bendigo, Chris Mayor sat holding a piece of paper.

“This was an interview I did with the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1950. That’s 69 years ago,” Mr Mayor said.

At 90-years-of-age, the former journalist has led an incredible life and is as astute as ever. 

Born in 1928, Mr Mayor possessed a desire to help others and became involved with global organisation Initiatives of Change at the age of 18.

Mr Mayor said the aim was to encourage people to take initiative to change what they see as wrong in society, beginning with themselves.

“We all have things in our own lives that need to change, so the idea is not to point your finger at another person because there’ll be three pointing back at you,” he said.

It was Mr Mayor’s involvement with Initiatives of Change which led to his meeting and lifelong friendship with Gandhi’s grandson, Rajmohan Gandhi.

Together they would start an Indian weekly news magazine similar to Time Magazine.

Mr Mayor first went to India with Initiatives of Change in 1953 and worked there for two years.

“We were trying to build bridges between antagonistic communities within the country and between countries after India’s independence,” he said.

In 1960, Rajmohan Gandhi invited Mr Mayor and his wife back to India.

“He wanted to know if we would come to India and help him develop his vision for a march across India with the theme of a clean, strong, united country,” Mr Mayor said.

“We marched with the bands through the cities and villages from the south in Kanyakumari up to New Delhi.”

After a successful march, along with several rallies across the country, Rajmohan Gandhi wanted to reach younger generations with the message of anti-corruption, and believed the best way to do this was to start a newspaper.

“It was a weekly news magazine with correspondents amongst  the world dealing with issues of the day,” Mr Mayor said.

Its first cover story in 1964 was China’s first nuclear bomb test.

The magazine’s name, Himmat, means audacity and courage.

“That was the message we wanted to convey. We must have courage to fight for morals and standards in the country and tackle corruption and nepotism,” Mr Mayor said.

Along with editing and writing articles, Mr Mayor had a weekly column called Freebooter.

“A freebooter is a pirate – a bit outside the law. In this column I could write humorous but pungent comments on the administration of the government,” he said.

Due to cultural divisions within India, Himmat was published in English.

“While Hindi is the national language, people in the south resented Hindi as a North Indian imperial domination so they wouldn’t learn it or speak it,” Mr Mayor said.

“Quality journalism in India was English.”

After the birth of his daughters, Mr Mayor and his wife returned to Australia for his daughters’ education, but visited India with his family throughout his life.

Turning 91 this month, Mr Mayor remains involved with Initiatives of Change, serving on some of their committees and attending meetings.

Reflecting on his life, Mr Mayor said, “At the time you think, ‘Oh well it’s just life’. You don’t have a perspective on the significance of it, but looking back it’s quite extraordinary really.”