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Dateline London: 70 years of reporting UK for India

The 70th anniversary event with music and memories was held on Monday at the landmark India Club, the venue of many pro-independence meetings of the India League before 1947.

world Updated: May 30, 2017 16:09 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Indian Journalists Association  was formed on May 29, 1947, weeks before India’s independence, as a representative body for UK-based correspondents and journalists reporting on and covering India and South Asia related issues.
Indian Journalists Association was formed on May 29, 1947, weeks before India’s independence, as a representative body for UK-based correspondents and journalists reporting on and covering India and South Asia related issues.(Indian Journalists Association )

Memories of VK Krishna Menon, the first high commissioner, and of British and Indian prime ministers interacting with London-based journalists were revived as veteran and young journalists came together to mark 70 years of reporting the UK for India.

The Indian Journalists Association (IJA) was formed on May 29, 1947, weeks before India’s independence, as a representative body for UK-based correspondents and journalists reporting on and covering India and South Asia related issues.

The 70th anniversary event with music and memories was held on Monday at the landmark India Club, the venue of many pro-independence meetings of the India League before 1947.

The venue has witnessed several events over the decades with Indian prime ministers and visiting dignitaries.

Speakers at the event included IJA president Ashis Ray, deputy high commissioner Dinesh Patnaik, and leading members of the British Indian community such as Joginder Sangar, Kartar Lalvani and GP Hinduja, while attendees included long-time IJA members such as Ashok Gupta, Batuk Gathani, H S Rao and Subhash Chopra.

Some of the first IJA members at its 1947 founding were K. Shelvankar of The Hindu (later ambassador to USSR), Sundar Kabadi of Amrita Bazar Patrika, Tarapada Basu of Ananda Bazar Patrika and Iqbal Singh of Patriot.

IJA’s membership today comprises representatives of Indian media outlets covering Britain and Europe from an Indian perspective, as well as journalists working for British Asian news organisations. Prominent names in Indian journalism have been its members and presidents over the decades.

IJA media conferences and annual dinners have been attended by heads of state, heads of government, members of royal families and eminent persons in various walks of life have attended IJA events.

Guests have included Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, P V Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Clement Atlee, Harold McMillan, Alec Douglas Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Edinburgh.

Wilson, twice British prime minister, said at an IJA event: “I must record the great debt both India and Britain owe to your association, which does so much to enable our peoples to understand each other, and by so understanding, come even closer together.”

Prominent IJA members in the past included S Nihal Singh (The Statesman), Sunanda K Datta-Ray (The Statesman), JD Singh (The Times of India), Rakshat Puri (Hindustan Times), and M K Razdan (Press Trust of India).