RECOLLECTIONS OF A COMMUNICATOR, Remembering Jawaharlal Nehru (Part II)

November 14th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by ANI  


During Republic Day celebrations, I used be on duty at the Teen Murti House — the Prime Minister’’s residence — to cover the visit of folk dancers. Panditji would spend time with each group, wear their headgears, talk to them and dance with them. He followed the footsteps of each group naturally and the spontaneity with which he participated was to be seen to be believed. If he floated gracefully with the Manipuris, he could dance with zest with the Nagas and match the boisterousness of of Bhangra dancers from Punjab .

I was allowed to operate the Rolliflex camera by the Defence Photo studio, I used to get tips on how to get a good picture from Satakopan, who used to send pictures to the Associated Press. One of my pictures got selected for release and I was complimented for its quality.

In the fifties, one of the important events organized by the Army was the Annual Horse Show at the Red Fort. I was given the task of covering the Army Horse Show. The Delhi newspapers gave a lot of space for the Horse Show, particularly the Statesman which was the favourite newspaper of the Army top brass then . It did not take me long to learn the language of the cavalrymen and I used to file detailed reports on show jumping, tent pegging and the deliberation of the judges on the quality of the horses. I became a favourite of the Statesman Sports Editor, Cyril Flory.

Generally the Chief of the Army Staff or the Quartermaster General would distribute prizes at the concluding function. The year I was detailed to cover the Horse Show, 1959 if I remember correctly, it was decided that Prime Minister would present a woolen drape to the best Horse of the show Prithviraj. The presentation was to be made at Teen Murti House at 6. P.M. and Prithviraj was to be escorted there. The Horse was to be formally ”inspected” by the Prime Minister at the presentation ceremony. .

I had gone to the Teen Murti House half an hour earlier and was standing at the porch. The official photographer too had not come. I saw the Prime Ministers Buick approaching the porch. Panditji got down from the car, saw me standing at a distance, and asked me why was I there. I said sir, I have come to cover the presentation ceremony of the woolen drape to the best horse of the Horse Show, Prithviraj. He said, yes, yes, where is the horse, lets go. I replied, Sir, General Kaul will be here when the horse is shown to you. Panditji laughed and said, Oh you have formalities in the Army. Alright, I will wait.

Meanwhile, to my utter surprise, he said come in. What is your name, he asked. He called me by my name and made me sit down in the sofa set in the portico of the Teen Murti, called the bearer and asked him to get some tea. He then said, by the time the tea comes, I will quickly have a wash and come. Make yourself comfortable. .

He returned in five minutes or so, by which time General B.N. Kaul came and took Panditji to the porch and showed him Prithviraj. The presentation of the blanket over, all of us rushed to file the story and release the photographs.

I narrated in detail to my colleagues and seniors how I had the privilege of being offered a cup of tea by Panditji himself at the Prime Minister’’s House. When I look back, I wonder which young officer will have the privilege of being asked by the Prime Minister to come into the house and made to sit down an offered a cup of tea. No wonder Panditji endeared himself to everyone who came into contact with him.

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