LONDON: In a zoom event, the “Reporting India”, a very informative and historic book authored by veteran journalist Prem Prakash was inaugurated here on Saturday, 20th February. Speaking at the occasion, Prem Prakash said that India is not just an emerging power but has power of its own in many ways and noted that the withdrawal by China in Pangong Lake area in eastern Ladakh as part of mutual disengagement agreement “is the first withdrawal Chinese may have made anywhere” and “further withdrawal is going to take place”.
Speaking during an interactive event through video conferencing on Saturday in which his book ‘Reporting India: My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist’ was launched here by Lord Raminder Ranger, the veteran journalist also said that former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar should not have accepted support of Congress with only about 60 MPs as it became a reason for his downfall and India lost a great leader.
The book authored by ANI Chairman Prem Prakash had earlier been launched in India.
Answering a query, the veteran journalist referred to progress made by India over the decades and its growing influence.
“India was known as land of snake charmers and elephants as I found in Britain. But today it is not just an emerging power, it has power of its own in many ways. We have just asserted it on the Chinese. This is the first withdrawal Chinese may have made anywhere that they made in Ladakh just now and further withdrawal is going to take place,” he said.
India and China reached an agreement for disengagement from the Pangong Lake area after several rounds of military and diplomatic talks. The agreement was announced by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in Parliament on February 11 after months of standoff along the Line of Actual Control following actions of Chinese Army. The talks between the two sides are now expected to focus on disengagement from Gogra, Hot Springs and Depsang plains.
Answering a query on which Prime Minister had impressed him the most, the author said, “they were all very honest people who wanted to serve India and they served India well”.
“My disappointment was with Chandra Shekhar who should not have accepted Congress support with only 60 odd MPs to rule the country. This not only became reason for his downfall in the end but India lost a great leader. The one I admired the most is tough one.
Rajiv Gandhi, the kind of things he did in the first term. The man had worked as a pilot, he knew how to earn money and how to spend it. He knew difficulties that common people face. Then Atal Bihari Vajpayee, during his period, the economy really got a push,” he said.
The author termed the Emergency between 1975-77 in India as “a dark period” in India’s history.
“Emergency was a dark period of Indian history because our first prime minister who gave us three elections that gave India a legacy of democracy would always say ‘I am comfortable with irresponsible independent newspapers than controlled newspapers.’ That was Nehru’s vision about the press. Once Emergency was imposed, power moved into hands extra constitutional centres of power and then the dark period descended,” he said.
The author said that the 1984 riots was a “shameful” period for Indian democracy.
He also referred to events in Amritsar that year.
“I was in Amritsar when (Indira) Gandhi came on radio and said curfew is imposed in Amritsar and the Army is moving in… There are events in the Indian history which are terrible. These things should not have happened and I am sure they will not happen in the future. If it happens, it can only lead to disaster. It was a shameful period. Remember Sikhs and Khalsa are our sword arm. The Gurus have sacrificed themselves to save India. Indians are proud of Sikhs. I want to say to them that please don’t be misled by few terrible incidents.”
In his remarks, Lord Rami Ranger said the book reflects the enterprise of the veteran journalist in covering challenging assignments. “You have created your own world with very little resources at your disposal. Your love for journalism is a beacon of hope for so many journalists that they should follow you and they should read this book to get some ideas how you covered those difficult areas of the world to share the news with the rest of us,” he said.
Prem Prakash is a pioneer in Indian journalism and in his long career has covered some of the most important stories of post-Independence India including the 1962 war with China, 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan, Emergency, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri’s fateful Tashkent journey.
Expressing his views on the book, M. Sarwar, Chief Editor, The Nation, London, said the author Mr. Prem Prakash is not only a veteran journalist but also a historian. “He made the book the equal interesting and historic for the readers of Pakistan by including the history of Simla Accord and Tashkent Agreement. So, in my suggestion, the title of the book should be ‘Reporting Sub-continent’ instead of Reporting India.” He said that since many subjects of the book do cover Pakistan, hence it is expected and as has been heard that the government of Pakistan will respond to relevant subjects.
“In given scenario and tension between India and Pakistan, neutral media-persons should come forward to play their positive and constructive role in bringing the both countries closer. We all should work to establish peace and tranquillity. Prem Prakash, undoubtedly, is among such neutral and impartial journalists, history makers and can his important role in this regard”.
The book provides a detailed account of his professional life and stories he covered from Nehru’s demise to rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The 225-page book has been published by Penguin India and is also available on Amazon and Flipkart.