ANI Chairman Prem Prakash (Photo/ANI)
ANI Chairman Prem Prakash (Photo/ANI)

Nehru's true legacy is democracy, says ANI Chairman Prem Prakash

ANI | Updated: Dec 18, 2020 22:46 IST

New Delhi [India], December 18 (ANI): Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru saw the country through three general elections which left people with a habit of going to the polls and electing a government, veteran journalist Prem Prakash said on Friday and noted that democracy was his "true legacy".
Answering questions during the discussion after launch of his book ' Reporting India: My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist' by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, the veteran journalist said Nehru did not expect to go to war with China and thought the issues will be resolved through diplomacy.
The ANI Chairman also said that India has had a history of "romanticising its international ties" due to which it has lost "negotiations at tables" despite "winning on fields".
"His (Nehru's) true legacy is democracy. He saw us as a nation through three general elections which left India's people with a habit of going to the polls and electing a government. He was always in Parliament, always interacting with media, always attending annual dinners at Foreign Correspondents Club. I don't think any other Prime Minister attended as many annual dinners at the club," the author said.
"Pandit Nehru used to say that he is happy with the free and irresponsible press, rather than a controlled press," he added.
The veteran journalist said Nehru did not expect war with China.
"Both he and Krishna Menon thought that the world has seen too much with World War II and would not go into war. Therefore they did not strengthen the army," he said.
The author said Indian leaders romanticized their relationship with foreign countries, especially China.
"I have wondered are we Indians as a race very sympathetic or friendly. We have been very sympathetic to China as well."
"General Thimayya mentioned China as a threat, but I don't know why we romanticised it."
Referring to the India-Pakistan war of 1965, he said Indian army climbed the Haji Pir Pass with a lot of difficulties and was not ready to give up.
"The Indian army was not in favour of signing the (Tashkent) agreement but under Soviet pressure, the peak was given up and the agreement was signed," he said.
Answering a query about how three prime ministers from the Nehru-Gandhi family treated media, he said Nehru was the most regular Prime Minister to attend the press conference in history.
"Mrs Gandhi was good to in the beginning, but things changed with the Emergency. Rajiv Gandhi was good with media too, a very practical man. I feel if he had not been assassinated and came back for the next term, then India's growth would have been faster," he said.
Asked about some suggestions that Nehru died of shock in 1964 following India's defeat in the 1962 war with China, the author said, "he (Nehru) died because he overworked himself".
"When I was interviewing him on Kennedy's death, he fell asleep in the middle of the interview because he was so overworked. His staff used to tell me that (in his last few years) he used to sleep for only three to four hours."
Asked about his advice to young journalists, he said they should go to the location to report.
"They need to read more, go on the ground, and report. Advocacy and activism is politics, not journalism," he said.
Senior journalist Sheela Bhatt and Sushant Sareen, Senior Fellow, ORF, took part in the discussion.
The launch of the book through video conferencing was followed by a discussion in which the author took questions. The event was organised in association with Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
The 225-page book has been published by Penguin India and is also available on Amazon and Flipkart. (ANI)