POLITICAL REPORTING: Then and Now

07:00 PM on Thursday 05 september 2019

POLITICAL REPORTING: Then and Now

HY Sharada Prasad Memorial Trust and The Foreign Correspondents' Club of South Asia (FCC)request the pleasure of your presence at a panel discussion on this theme to commemorate the eleventh death anniversary of HY Sharada Prasad, who was Information Advisor to three Prime Ministers:Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, and Rajiv Gandhi.

On Thursday, 05 September 2019 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
(High Tea at 6.30pm)

At FCC Auditorium
AB - 19, Mathura Road, opposite Gate No. 7 of Pragati Maidan, New Delhi 110 001.
(Parking on BhagwanDass Road, Opposite Gate # D of the Supreme Court)

Speakers:

S Venkat Narayan
John Dayal
Ajoy Bose
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta
VK Cherian
Jayanta Roy Chowdhury

During the tenure of HY Sharada Prasad as Information Advisors to Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, and Rajiv Gandhi, from 1966 to 1989, there was no social media and no internet. There was only one government-owned television channel Doordarshan and radio network All India Radio. However, there were thousands of newspapers and journals, in all Indian languages and English, as well as numerous foreign correspondents.

The panel will discuss how coverage of Indian politics has changed from the days of HY Sharada Prasad, the relationships between politicians and the media, the role of big business in media over the decades, how attempts are made to influence coverage or censor reportage, and the rise of fake news and disinformation.

HY Sharada Prasad (15 April 1924--02 September 2008) was Information Advisor to Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, and Rajiv Gandhi. A freedom fighter, he was imprisoned during the Quit India Movement in 1942 in Mysuru and Bengaluru jails. He graduated from Maharaja's College, Mysuru, with a degree in English Literature, and joined the Indian Express newspaper in Chennai in 1945. He worked with the Indian Express group as News Editor in Mumbai till 1955, and he spearheaded the trade union movement, fighting to improve the working conditions and salaries of journalists.

In 1955, he was the first person from Asia to be selected for the prestigious Nieman Fellowship in journalism at Harvard University, where he specialized in modern Chinese political history.

In 1957, he joined the Publications Division of the Government of India, as editor of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, when US Mohan Rao questioned him: "If you can work for Ramnath Goenka, why can't you work for Government---Our Nehru's Government?"

In 1959, he became Editor of Yojana, the journal of the Planning Commission, and continued in this position until 1966. He also edited the extempore speeches of Jawaharlal Nehru, readying them for publication.

Following Nehru's demise, he assisted Charles Eames in designing the Nehru Memorial Exhibition, which was displayed in numerous countries.

In January 1966, he joined Indira Gandhi's Prime Minister's Office as Information Advisor, and was asked by Morarji Desai in March 1977 to continue with him.

From 1978 to 1980, he was director of the Indian Institute of Mass Communications (IIMC).

In 1980, he re-joined Indira Gandhi's secretariat as Information Advisor, and he continued with Rajiv Gandhi till 1989.

He was an Editor of the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi and the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru; Chairman of the National Institute of Design, Vice-President of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Trustee of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, and the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, and Secretary of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust.

He was awarded the Padma Bhushan and the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, and was awarded an honorary D.Litt. by the University of Mysuru.

He translated almost all of RK Narayan's works from English to Kannada (as a teenage student he translated Swami and Friends), and Kota ShivaramaKaranth's works from Kannada to English (The Woman of Basrur, The Headman of the Little Hill, Ten Faces of a Crazy Mind, etc).

He was the author of numerous books, notably "The Book I Won't Be Writing", a collection of his columns, and "A Window On The Wall", a diary of his imprisonment in the Quit India Movement, a book on Rashtrapati Bhawan, "Incredible India---Life and Landscapes", "Exploring Karnataka", etc.

S Venkat Narayan is the President of the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia, a senior journalist and syndicated columnist since 1968, and was Senior Editor of India Today.


Dr John Dayal is one of India's foremost voices on human rights, and particularly the situation of religious minorities, having been a writer and activist for the past four decades. He is or has been a member of several governmental bodies, including the National Integration Council, and holds senior roles in numerous non-governmental organisations and networks, including as co-founder and Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, 1999-2014, National President of the 1919-founded all India Catholic Union between 2004-2008, and a member of Justice and Peace Commission of the Catholic Bishops' Conference.

He has had a long and distinguished career in the media and in academia.
He has a long record of investigating and producing substantive and influential documentation on communal violence in India, including Hindu-Muslim rioting and violence against Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. He is one of India's leading experts on the situation in Orissa state, following the communal violence in 2008. He has authored and contributed to several books, and regularly writes articles on human rights issues in India. Major books he has authored/co-authored or edited include For Reasons of State - Delhi Under the Emergency [1977], republished by Penguin in June 2018, Gujarat 2002 - Told and untold Stories [ 2002], A Matter of Equity [2007], Reconciliations - A journey Through Wounded India [with Harsh Mander and Natasha Badhwar, Amazon, 2018]. He has contributed to several books published in India and Europe.

Ajoy Bose is the former executive editor of The Pioneer. His book Behenji, a political biography of Mayawati, was published in 2008. He is also author of "For Reasons of State: Delhi under Emergency", and a profile of the Beatles.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta's work experience, spanning over 40 years, cuts across different media: print, radio, television and documentary cinema. He is a writer, speaker, anchor, interviewer, teacher and commentator in three languages: English, Bangla and Hindi. His main areas of interest are the working of the political economy and the media in India and the world, on which he has authored/co-authored books and directed/produced documentary films. He teaches and speaks on these subjects to students, general audiences and also trains aspiring - and working -- media professionals. He participates frequently in, and organises, seminars/conferences. He is a regular contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites. He is featured regularly on television channels and radio programmes as an anchor as well as an analyst and commentator.

Born on October 5, 1955 and educated at St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi (1972-75) and at the Delhi School of Economics (1975-77) in the same university from where he obtained his Master's degree in economics, he started his career as a journalist in June 1977 and has been employed with various media oganisations including companies bringing out publications such as Business India, BusinessWorld, The Telegraph, India Today and The Pioneer. He worked with Television Eighteen (now Network 18) for almost six years between 1995 and 2001 when he anchored a daily discussion programme called "India Talks" on the CNBC-India television channel. Between 2007 and 2013, he has anchored two one-hour-long weekly programmes for Lok Sabha Television (the channel owned and operated by the lower house of the Parliament of India). He has anchored programmes for other television channels.

He is (or has been) a visiting faculty member at reputed educational institutions including the Indian Institutes of Management at Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Bangalore and Shillong, University of Delhi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia, Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration and Visva Bharati University.

He served as a member of the Press Council of India nominated by the University Grants Commission between January 2008 and January 2011. In April 2010, as a member of a two-member sub-committee of the Council, he co-authored a 36,000-word report entitled Paid News: How corruption in the Indian media undermines democracy. He is a media trainer and a consultant/advisor on India's political economy. He was the founder director of the School of Convergence (SoC). He has been a consultant at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore, making presentations and writing papers on Indian politics. He has been associated with a number of projects of United Nations organisations, including the International Labour Organization (ILO).

He served for two years (2011-13) as president of the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP), an independent, not-for-profit organisation based in Delhi. He is a member of the managing committee of the Media Foundation of India that runs the website, the hoot.org, and has written a series of articles for the website on media ownership in India. He is a member of the governing council of Common Cause, a civil society organisation engaged in public interest litigation, among other activities related to redressing public grievances. He has advised various organisations, including corporate bodies (Indian, foreign and multinational), government agencies (including India's Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) and civil society organisations.

He is a director/co-director/producer of documentary films. The films, Idiot Box or Window of Hope (2003), Grabbing Eyeballs: What's Unethical About Television News in India (2007), Advertorial: Selling News or Products? (2009), Freedom Song (2012) were all produced by the Public Service Broadcasting Trust (PSBT). Other films include Hot As Hell: A Profile of Dhanbad(2006-07) , Blood & Iron: A Story of the Convergence of Crime, Business and Politics in Southern India (2010-11), The Great Indian Telecom Robbery (2011), A Thin Dividing Line(2013) on the India-Mauritius double-taxation avoidance treaty, Coal Curse: A documentary on the Political Economy of Coal Energy in India (2013) and In the Heart of Our Darkness: The Life and Death of Mahendra Karma (2013).

He is the lead author of Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis with Subir Ghosh and Jyotirmoy Chaudhuri, published in April 2014. The book has been self-published with Authors Upfront. The book tells the story of how influential corporate captains have benefitted from the way government policies and contracts are structured. Political and social activists, academicians, students, media professionals and representatives of corporate bodies have evinced considerable interest in the book. The authors were served legal notices in April and May 2014 by lawyers acting on behalf of two of India's richest men, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, and the companies they control. Till the middle of November 2014, the book had sold around 12,000 copies (including downloads in its electronic form) and continues to register brisk sales.

He has contributed articles and chapters to the following books: Realizing Brand India edited by Sharif D Rangnekar [Rupa, 2005], India: The Political Economy of Reforms edited by Bibek Debroy and Rahul Mukherji [Bookwell, 2004]), Journalism: Ethics and Responsibilities edited by Seema Mustafa [Har Anand, 2013],Strategising Energy: An Asian Perspective edited by Sreemati Ganguli [KW Publishers, 2014], The Indian Parliament: A Critical Appraisal edited by Sudha Pai and Avinash Kumar [Orient BlackSwan, 2014] and The Indian Parliament: The Changing Landscape edited by BD Dua, MP Singh and Rekha Saxena [Manohar, 2014]

In collaboration with Authors Upfront, he has been the publisher of A Million Missions: The Non-Profit Sector in India by Mathew Cherian and a new edition of Calcutta Diary by Ashok Mitra. He is currently engaged in authoring/co-authoring/editing other books and producing/directing documentary films. He has travelled widely in India and across the world. He is a partner of Media Network of India, a firm engaged in designing and creation of content for all media, contract publishing, training of media personnel, establishment of radio stations and other consulting assignments in the media.

Paranjoy served as the Editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) from April 4, 2016 to July 18, 2017.

VK Cherian is an alumnus of the International Institute of Journalism in Berlin and the Indian Institute of Mass Communications. He has worked with Financial Express, Hindu Business Line, Jain TV, and Cellular Operators Association of India. He has written numerous books, including on the Harshad Mehta scam, a book on Film Societies.

Jayanta Roy Chowdhury is Business Editor at The New Indian Express. He was earlier Senior Editor of The Telegraph, and also worked with The Pioneer and MacMillan. He is Honorary Secretary of the Commonwealth Journalists' Association, an international body of journalists dedicated to protection of freedom of speech for journalists and to training and assisting journalists throughout the Commonwealth. He is an alumnus of the University of Bradford, specializing in economic reforms.