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'Journalism needs a professional body'

In Amritsar to hold an interactive session, Sir Mark Tully talked of his days in journalism and the problems India encounters.

chandigarh Updated: Aug 28, 2012 23:23 IST
Archna Matharu
Archna Matharu
Hindustan Times

When a seasoned journalist and a famous writer of the stature of Sir Mark Tully is in the house for a book reading and interactive session, one expects the conversation to be seasoned with oodles of knowledge and interesting experiences. And, Sunday evening promised just that.

With his book, Non Stop India, (2011) in hand, glasses resting on his nose and a mind full of diverse knowledge, Sir Mark Tully enthralled the audience at the session organised at a local library, and answered every question posed for him without inhibitions.

Enlisting the reason behind deciding to write this book, Tully said, "I felt there was too much optimism in India, but nobody was looking at the problems that the country faced. While it is good to be optimistic, it is also equally important to introspect."

In his book, Tully has shed light on various issues that the country faces - right from its very own jugaad technology to development in villages of India to fascination and problems of use of English language and environmental issues that need immediate attention.

"Till the time people do not stand up and say that we will not tolerate the colonial system that is prevalent in India, nothing can change," he said.

A veteran journalist and former bureau chief of BBC, New Delhi, Tully shared that he now missed journalism and that the early '80s, when he was covering Punjab suffering at the hands of
terrorism, was a fascinating time for him as a journalist.

"I miss being there for stories, investigative journalism, the joy of bagging a scoop and having an edge over competition and of course the feeling when the reverse happens," he laughed.

Recalling those days, Tully, who is a recipient of Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan, shared, "It was a different time. Although we could interview people such as Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale easily, the police were not forthcoming. We did get many threatening letters, but did not bother much about them," he smiled.

Tully is also critical of the entire 'breaking news' culture and said electronic media needs to be better planned and controlled.

"I feel that the editorial functioning is missing in electronic media. Their content needs to be planned and edited. Also, I think too many panel discussions are telecast on news channels," he said.

He also suggested that journalism needs a professional body to acknowledge the problems being faced by the profession and overcome them.

Tully, who decided to reside in India and presently stays in Delhi, said he loves the Indian beauty, the landscapes here and the Indian culture. "I just have one regret - I could not learn very nice Hindi," he smiled.

First Published: Aug 28, 2012 23:04 IST