Wed, 08 Dec 2021

New Delhi [India], October 16 (ANI): The book by veteran journalist Prem Prakash on his seventy-year journey as a journalist is the story of the evolution of India and is the juxtaposition of an eye-witness account with an assessment of what the country was at different phases of time, India's High Commissioner to Canada Ajay Bisaria has said.

Speaking at the launch of the book 'Reporting India: My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist' for the Canadian audience, he said the book tells the story of India and talks of the "twists and turns we have taken to get this".

He said India is in a comfortable position in the 21st century when much of what will happen in the next few decades "will not only belong to India but will be determined by India".

The author of the book Prem Prakash, who is ANI Chairman, took questions from the panel. Answering a query, he expressed reservations over the manner the US had pulled out its troops from Afghanistan.

"This was not the way to withdraw from a country like that after 20 years of war. When the Soviets withdrew, the withdrawal started and lasted seven months. Decent proper withdrawal. There was a proper ceremony in Kabul and their army moved out of Kabul smartly. But what Biden has done, he has fought the Taliban and handed Afghanistan back to the Taliban. Did he not realise what was going on and would happen? We have all read and now know that his intelligence had told him this can happen and yet he did it," the author said.

Taliban took over control of Afghanistan in August this year, making rapid advance after the withdrawal of US and NATO troops from the country.

The author said he personally feels Afghanistan is heading "towards a terrible period".

He said the Biden administration withdrew troops as a commitment had been made to bring them back.

"Like politicians, he had made a commitment to bring the boys back. Typical American slogan, bring the boys back," he said.

He also referred to Afghanistan as becoming "a victim of the cold war". The author said he is writing a book on the tragedy of Afghanistan.

"I personally feel Afghanistan is heading towards a terrible period. Unless, somehow or the other, countries like ours move in. Afghans have great respect for us," he said.

The author answered questions on a range of subjects covered in the book including on Jawaharlal Nehru and 1962 war with China, the Emergency, the Tashkent Agreement and the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and the crisis and violence faced by Punjab during the eighties and early nineties.

In his remarks, Ajay Bisaria said the book is a delightful read.

"It's a story in many ways of India. We are celebrating 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' to mark the 75 years of India's independence. So, to me, the narrative of the book runs on two parallel tracks. It is the story of the evolution of India and its several Prime Ministers who form the anchors of the story. And at the same time, it is the story of a remarkable man Prem Prakashji whose professional career spanned seven decades and more who looked at much of these events," he said.

"It's a juxtaposition of an eye-witness account with an assessment of what India was at different phases of time. I find the book fascinating for that reason. It's also a very easy read, comfortably written and comfortably broken into chapters," he added.

The High Commissioner said that it was a pleasure to be able to present the story to the Canadian audience.

"I can only add that on a personal note. I look back, when I read this book, at my own journey in the Government of India for 34 years. So as Prem Prakashji describes each of the Prime Ministers and their peculiarities at particular instances and particular points of history. I came of age in Mrs Gandhi's times and when I joined the government, it was Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government," he said.

"And thereafter, I have seen this evolve in multiple ways. I have of course worked very closely with Prime Minister Vajpayee in his six years in government as his private secretary. So, there's a great deal of resonance in the story which is so well-told and I think it goes beyond being a story of India. It's also in many ways a universal story. Something that not just Indians abroad but anyone who would like to understand India would like to see and read and get familiar with several of the episodes," he added.

He said as India celebrates 75 years of India, the country is also celebrating 75 years of Indo-Canadian relations.

"This is a very strong partnership between countries which has now reached a point of strategic partnership. We have very strong people-to-people links represented in this panel. I think this is a book which resonates with all of us.

"It tells the story of India and it talks of the twists and turns we have taken to get this, I think, a comfortable position in the 21st century when much of what will happen in the next few decades will not only belong to India but will be determined by India," he said. (ANI)

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