iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

HT Correspondent, PTI
New Delhi, May 18, 2005
You have now been given a very important and a high profile charge as I&B secretary. Are you happy with this assignment?
Happiness is only a part of the answer. I have always tried to expand the frontiers of any assignment and every assignment offers tremendous opportunities to do so.

You must be familiar with the functioning of the ministry as you have already worked here as joint secretary, broadcasting?
Up to a point. I was here for four years till the end of 1996. Those were exciting days because the broadcasting landscape was enlarging from a single channel monopoly to a vision of over a 100 channels and a huge variety of choice.

Today competition is exciting, consumer tastes have manifested themselves widely, choices are multiple and technology is on yet another frontier of change.

You are also well known as the biographer of Mother Teresa. How did you come in contact with the Mother?
Well I think it was in 1975 when Mother along with some other sisters had come to see the then Delhi Lieutenant Governor in connection with her home at Majnu Ka Tila. After meeting her I realised that poverty was Mother's choice. Despite the tough path she had chosen she was always cheerful and had a great sense of joy and humour.

Since then it has been a sort of quiet partnership with Mother and after her with other sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. As a bureaucrat I used to help Mother with some work in government offices, basically trying to facilitate and co-ordinate her work so that it could save her time.

Your book on Mother Teresa is a bestseller. Will you have time to write any more?
I have already written two books on Mother. In fact, I am very keen on writing a book on her anecdotes and small interesting stories on Mother that I have gathered while travelling to different places in the country. I have already discussed the subject with sister Nirmala and she has given me permission. Now I need to find the time for this project. Another project I am very interested in is a travel book on India. Hopefully I should get time to start work on them.

You are actively involved with two NGOs also. Can you elaborate on them.
Whatever money I have received as royalty on Mother's books has been put into these two NGOs. The one in Delhi is known as the Lepra India Trust where our thrust is on the rehabilitation of children of leprosy patients. We give them vocational training so that they get some jobs or be self-employed.

The other project is in Jaipur where we give similar vocational training to the visually challenged and hearing impaired. Hopefully the building for both the projects will be complete very soon.