Tag Archives: 1962

BOOK REVIEW: BETWEEN THE LINES … Kuldip Nayar

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Kuldip Nayar wore many hats in his eventful life that tired the old cliché—‘a doyen of Indian journalism’, that really does not fit-in, in his context. As a newsman, he scooped some of the biggest breaks in political journalism of his times and gained a reputation for chronicling political events in the country for over half a century, providing extraordinary insight and insider information in his popular column, appropriately called ‘Between the Lines’.    Nayar was much more than just a newsperson. He was an author of many bestsellers, champion of civil liberties and freedom of speech, and an untiring activist for peace between India and Pakistan and conscience keeper of the nation.

    Even governments not in tune with his views often turned to him for advice on relations with Pakistan since he remained in close touch with politicians, the intelligentsia, media and people of Pakistan, many of whom he knew intimately. He was on the bus when then Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, rode in the historic inaugural journey between Amritsar and Lahore in 1999. His stature earned him recognition in the form of numerous honours and awards, including a nomination to Rajya Sabha, the prestigious post of High Commissioner to the UK and member on several commissions and committees.

    Between the Lines is a classic among books on politics. It set a new trend in reporting which uncovered the dark vicious conspiracies behind the events. Never before had reporting been so candid and revealing. The author had benefitted from a ringside view which he had in the sixties and the seventies as Press Officer to Home Minister, Govind Ballabh Pant and his successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri.

    For the first time, you can read the full story about why the switch over to Hindi did not take place and why English and Hindi were both declared as link languages. The book has a diary of the author on day-to-day developments. It also has a diary of the author on day-to-day developments on China’s war against India in 1962, the debacle of our armed forces and helplessness of government at New Delhi. In fact Sino-Indian conflict has been covered in quite a depth in this book.

    Written in lucid language, easy style, the book also describes the pulls and pressures for rupee’s devaluation which turned out to be a disaster for the nation. The author, privy to the wrangles within the Congress on the succession to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, tells why Shastri was chosen in preference to Mrs Indira Gandhi and then why she got the position and not Morarji Desai. Many other things come to light—such things which will only add to your knowledge of Indian political history. The passage of time has only made mysteries more mysterious, simple issues more tangled and political plots more intriguing.

    A veteran journalist and former Member of Parliament, Kuldip Nayar was India’s most well-known and widely syndicated journalist. He was born in Sialkot in 1923 and educated at Lahore University before migrating to Delhi with his family at the time of Partition. He began his career in the Urdu newspaper Anjam and after a spell in the USA worked as information officer of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Govind Ballabh Pant.

    He eventually became the Resident Editor of the Statesman and Managing Editor of the Indian news agency, UNI. He corresponded for The Times for 25 years and later served as Indian High Commissioner to the UK during the V.P. Singh government. His stand for press freedom during the Emergency, when he was detained; his commitment to better relations between India and Pakistan, and his role as a human rights activist have won him respect and affection in both countries. Author of more than a dozen books, his weekly columns are read across South Asia.

    Between the lines reconstructs four important events of India’s history. The readers will have inside information of developments as they unfolded. The five engrossing chapters of the book are Hat Trick, Bilingualism, Devaluation, Full Circle and China’s Invasion of India: A diary. It has 321 pages and is published by Konark Publishers.

By Kamlesh Tripathi

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