Out of 193 member states of the United Nations only eight countries have a Uniform Civil Code - the United States, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, Egypt and Ireland.
Veteran journalist Mahendra Ved’s memoir “@75 As I Saw It: A Reporter Recounts” covers five decades of his career and life. His political reporting, especially the 1971 India-Pakistan war, gives a vivid account of the turmoil of that period in time.
The opening chapter “Saare Jahan Se Achcha” gives us a peak into the emotions of all those associated with India’s space programme. The interaction between then late prime minister Indira Gandhi and IAF pilot Rakesh Sharma after the latter became the first Indian to travel in space, has been beautifully detailed in the book.
Ved has served many prestigious publications, including the United News of India (UNI), Hindustan Times, Times of India and The Daily, in his illustrious career. He has also anchored a weekly column in the New Straits Times, Malaysia for over 13 years, providing a window for India and South East Asia. He has co-authored three books on the Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.
Kundan Vyas, Group Editor and CEO of Janmabhoomi Group, a leading Gujarati newspaper chain, says Ved is among the few scribes who have retained interest and writes meticulously on international issues based on their long years of experience and insight. “I trust Mahendrabhai’s memoirs will help the younger generation of journalists entering the profession,” he says.
In the book’s foreword written by popular columnist Jug Suraiya, he describes Ved’s writing as “lucid, shorn of bombast and purple prose”.
“The book @75 As I Saw It: A Reporter Recounts gives us a ringside seat to the thrilling three-ring circus of India through 50 years,” he says.
The book transports its readers, especially the younger generation, to an era dominated by powerful politicians who were known for their brilliance and follies. Case in point is the telecommunication exchange between Indira Gandhi and pioneer cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma in space, the author’s account of the riot-torn streets of Delhi following Gandhi’s assassination, and his near-fatal encounter with perpetrators of the massacre of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.
The book beautifully talks about the succession of the country’s prime ministers, giving the readers an inside view of kingmaking and power-breaking in the political corridors of the national capital.
The book, divided into 11 chapters, shines light on various political developments that India endured in the past five decades. Particularly riveting is Ved’s account of the formation of Bangladesh and the assassination of ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rehman.
Rahman, considered the ‘Father of the Nation’ in Bangladesh, was killed along with most of his family at his house on 15 August 1975 during a military coup by renegade army officers. His wife, three sons, two daughters-in-law, and a host of other relatives, personal staff, and a brigadier general of the Bangladesh Army were killed as part of the coup.
Ved was among the few journalists who broke the news to the world. The veteran journalist says he survived death to tell this story.
“Ami Major Dalim bolchi. Adyo sokal hothe khandoker Mushtaq Ahmad er bolishto netritye Samarik Bahini khomota dokhol koriyache. Sheikh Mujib o taar Sarkar ke utkhat kora hoyi-ache. Ekhon theke Shara deshe samarik ain jari kora holo…Bangladesh Zindabad” (This is Major Dalim speaking. Under the robust leadership of Khandoker Mushtaq Ahmad, the armed forces have taken power. Sheikh Mujib and his government has been ousted. From now on martial law has been declared…Bangladesh Zindabad.)
Ved writes in the book, “This radio broadcast had shook the world trying to help Bangladesh.”
The writer ends the book by talking about many facets of his work that he could not incorporate in the book. Nevertheless, he wishes the young reporters good luck and hope that they tackle the professional complexities with vigour and enthusiasm.
The book was released at a grand event at the India International Centre here recently. It is priced at Rs 625 and has been published by India Netbooks Private Limited.