ON THE fifth anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, Jagdish Sarin’s emotional broadcast on ‘Voice of America’ brought tears in the eyes of his listeners.
“There were about 60 to 70 Indians who too died in the tragedy,” Sarin told HT. He was in the city to receive a special award from the State Government for popularizing Hindi overseas.
Of the Indians who died, Sarin covered a couple like Prem Jairath.
“Prem was among those trapped inside the towers when the terror plane crashed into them. A couple of seconds later, Prem found it difficult to breathe as he was trapped in the debris. It was then that he dialed his wife Meena,” recalled Sarin.
After telling Meena that he loved her very much, he told her what had happened. “Meena was shocked. She asked Prem to rush out,” Sarin said. But after asking Meena to take good care of their child Neel, Prem hung up.
“Prem knew he was dying. Yet, he didn’t tell his wife the reality. Prem’s response was so typically Indian. He never wanted his wife to experience the pain at that moment,” Sarin said. After the moving story became public, New Jersey residents named a street after Prem.
Sarin joined ‘Voice of America’ in 1968. Since then, he has risen to the post of chief of Voice of America’s Hindi service. “We rely on credibility. Anything that comes from the heart is appealing,” he said adding that the popularity of VOI’s Hindi service is very high.
Sarin, responsible for ‘Voice of America’ TV and Internet launch said ‘call-in’ programmes like ‘Hello India’ were extremely popular in USA. “I find NRIs more traditional than Indians in India,” he said, adding, “Indians have been hugely successful in USA. And the perception about Americans being hostile towards them is totally unfounded. We mistake the UK with the US. Average American is simple and unassuming,” he said.
Today, Sarin lives in the posh McLean locality of Washington. One of his three daughters is wedded to an American, Richard Hawn. “Hawn, goes to temple regularly and is fascinated by India,” Sarin adds.