At the launch of the Hindi translation of his book, Reporting India, veteran journalist Prem Prakash shares his thoughts with fellow journalist Rasheed Kidwai and the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan
Prem Prakash’s name shines bright in the Indian journalistic firmament – his contribution to reportage and telling India’s story is unparalleled. Prabha Khaitan Foundation, under its Kitaab initiative, organised the release of the Hindi version of the senior journalist’s book, Reporting India: My Seventy-year Journey as a Journalist. The occasion, which took place in Bhopal, was graced by the presence of Madhya Pradesh’s chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who said that the life and journalistic journey of Prakash was truly inspirational. Chouhan also said that one can reach the top with hard work and dedication, and Prakash is the perfect example of this. In 1957, Prakash started his journey as a cameraman. In 1971, he founded the Asian News International, India’s first television news agency – by 2019, it had become the largest TV news agency.
Moving on to Prakash’s book, the Hindi translation of which is called Reporting India: Patrakarita Ki Meri 70 Varsho Ki Anvarat Yatra, Chouhan observed that it describes, among other things, the life and work of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and goes on till the tenure of the present prime minister, Narendra Modi. “This book is a kind of political history of independent India,” said Chouhan. “It is very useful for those people who have not witnessed the politics of that era.”
The renowned journalist, writer and political analyst, Rasheed Kidwai, also had thoughts to share on Prakash’s book. “Prakashji has provided a descriptive analysis in his book of everything he witnessed in the politics of that era,” observed Kidwai. “He eschews any kind of bias; in this book, one can find history as well as stories.”
In 1957, Prakash started his journey as a cameraman. In 1971, he founded the Asian News International, India’s first television news agency – by 2019, it had become the largest TV news agency.
Prakash said that all of India’s prime ministers were his favourites. “I was very close to the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru; my career started during his tenure,” recalled Prakash. Chouhan asked Prakash about his experience with the former prime minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpeyee. In response, Prakash narrated an inspiring incident that indicated Vajpayee’s foresight regarding the Asia Pacific region; on the subject of Lal Bahadur Shastri, Prakash surmised that he was under pressure with regard to signing the peace accord with Pakistan in Tashkent, which may have played a role in his death. When asked about Nehru and the Emergency, Prakash narrated several interesting anecdotes. Apra Kuchhal, the Foundation’s Honorary Convenor of Rajasthan and Central Affairs, asked Prakash about his assessment of the country. In reply, Prakash said that if Pakistan had not attacked, India may not have not formed its own army. This was because Nehru believed in non-violence. Prakash also narrated several stories about being trapped while reporting in Pakistan.
Kuchhal also asked Prakash what message he would want to give journalists today. Pat came the reply: “Keep reading.” Kidwai also asked Chouhan several questions. For instance, in his long tenure, what was one thing he wanted to do but could not do? “There is nothing I had thought of doing and could not do,” replied Chouhan. At the end of the programme, Chouhan felicitated Prakash with a shawl and a bouquet of flowers – a gesture through which, he said, he is honouring the world of journalism.
Kitaab Bhopal was supported by Shree Cement Limited as their CSR initiative in association with Taj Lake Front Bhopal and with the support of Ehsaas Women of Bhopal.