HY Sharada Prasad who passed away here this morning was media adviser to three prime ministers, a freedom fighter, a columnist, an intellectual and in his own words “a communicator”.
The end came after a brief illness. He was 84. Sharada Prasad had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He is survived by his wife and two sons — Ravi, an IT specialist and Sanjeeva, an IIT professor.
He was cremated on Tuesday evening. Those present at the Lodi Road crematorium included UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul and several other dignitaries, besides family members.
Sharada Prasad was a trusted aide of Indira Gandhi’s with whom he had a long association. He advised her regularly on media matters and often wrote her speeches.
However, he never liked to boast about his proximity to her.
“He would tell colleagues, ‘We should never forget we are communicators and therefore, should not project ourselves’,” recalled Ram Mohan Rao, media consultant and former adviser to the PM and principal information officer.
“All of us learnt so much from him. Indiraji and Rajiv Gandhi both had great respect for him,” he added.
Indira Gandhi’s political adviser ML Fotedar said Sharada Prasad was a man of great stature.
RK Dhawan, a close aide of Indira Gandhi, recalled that Sharada Prasad played a vital role in his leader’s inter action with the media.
MJ Akbar, well-known journalist for whom Sharada Prasad wrote a regular column for The Asian Age said, “He had a gentle wisdom which seems to have disappeared today. I knew him from the time he was in Rajiv Gandhi’s office. Rajiv relied on his wisdom. Those of us who knew him will miss him more than what we can convey in words.”
Rao said Sharada Prasad was a connoisseur of Hindustani music and Karnataka music. And extremely well read.
He was a news editor with The Indian Express when he went to the US on a scholarship. But Mrs. Gandhi wanted him to be with her so he came back.
Sharada Prasad also served with Morarji Desai for a brief period. Morarji had great respect for his intellectual capabilities but did not need a media adviser subsequently. Sharada Prasad was than appointed by him to head the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC).
He led a very simple life. He was upright and led by example. He would never allow his own accomplishments to come in the way of projecting accomplishments of the PMs he served.