External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Friday said that he can "readily identify" with the account of Emergency in the book 'Reporting India: My Seventy-Year Journey as a Journalist' by veteran journalist Prem Prakash and that the chapter on Emergency is "both very personal and passionate".
Launching the book through video conferencing, the minister said that he was also struck "by the singular absence of post-partition nostalgia that one would have expected from someone from his generation".
He said the book is pretty much history of India from a foreign policy perspective for half-a-century and the domestic aspects of his journalistic work are no less interesting.
The minister said the author, who is now the chairman of ANI, was present at "all the key moments" of the country's history and his interviews in many cases have themselves played a part in the history.
Jaishankar noted that he was in the university during Emergency but was familiar with the press.
"Naturally, as a journalist, the chapter on emergency is very personal and very passionate. I can tell as someone who was at university at that time but was familiar with press, this is a chapter in account with which I can readily identify. The cumulative pictures of Prem Prakashji is a great record or our times. Clearly being at the right place at the right time is not an accident. He gives us how the hard one has to work to make that happen," the minister said.
"I was also struck by the singular absence of post-partition nostalgia that one would have expected from someone of his generation. I only wish there were more like him," he added.
The minister said what comes through in the book is "deep underlying optimism that continues to permeate his outlook even now" and the author is very confident that current India has the ability to set the wrongs right.
"As someone who knows him from years, I can completely understand why Prem Prakashji has built a solid legacy in the ANI. The 75 years journey is one of the memorable moments of unique experience and a great accomplishment," he said.
The minister said while the event was the release of the book, it was the celebration of the author's life.
He said the author has present to cover momentous events including the liberation of Goa and the 1962 war with China. "He climbed the Haji Pir pass during the 1965 war, was present in Tashkent when Lal Bhadurji passed away and covered the Bangladesh war from inside at great personal risk." The minister said the author was present when former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was attacked during the guard of honour ceremony in Colombo and has also extensively covered the Afghan war.
"I was particularly taken in by how he has defined his own ambition early in his life to shape the image of India. I can say from my perspective that the country has gained enormously from his efforts," the minister said.
He noted the author has interacted with almost all prime ministers of the country.
The launch of the book was followed by a discussion in which the author took questions. The event was organised in association with Prabha Khaitan Foundation.
The 225-page book has been published by Penguin India and is also available on Amazon and Flipkart.
(With inputs from ANI)