Nehru and the media

This is the image of Nehru addressing newsmen at the steps of his Teen Murti House residence in New Delhi. The photo, dating back to 1960s ,  has been scanned from my collection of old newspaper cuttings.   Life was then a lot easier for netasNehru didn’t have to contend  with  24×7 news channels. There were not many newspaper people then and they were gentlemanly in their interaction with netas. The rules of engagement didn’t cover  button-holing the subject  and  media stakeout in front of residences.  And netas, on their part, didn’t play hard to get.

At press meets  reporters took turns with questions ; and heard out their  subject.  Nehru ,  usually media friendly, was however given to occasional burst of temper.  I know of an instance when he gave a  chase to  a  news photographer, brandishing the  baton he usually carried with him.  Kundanlal, an official photographer with the Press Information Bureau , was at New Delhi airport  to cover Nehru’s return  from a tour abroad. And a group of officials and Nehru’s cabinet colleagues were there to receive the PM at the tarmac.

Those were days before the digital camera, and, the subject gets exposed to a flash of blinding light from the flash-gun  with every click of the camera.  And PIB photographer  Kundanlal took a shot too many, and, in an attempt to get a few close-ups, took  his heavy-duty camera  a bit too close to Nehru  for his comfort.  Irritated by flash light Nehru took a baton  swipe at the offending photographer, but missed  Kundanlal  by a foot.  Dodging Nehru’s baton the photographer took yet another shot. This infuriated the Prime Minister so much that he pounced at,  and gave Kundanlal a run-around on the tarmac.

Kundanlal who recounted the incident to his colleagues at office (I was then with PIB)  said he enjoyed experience, knowing that Nehru’s temper didn’t last long. They knew each other for long,  and  Kundanlal had accompanied the PM on several tours within the country and abroad.  Kundanlal’s only regret was that he couldn’t take a photo of Nehru giving him a chase on the airport tarmac.

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2 Responses

  1. A good pic.. says a lot. Very true, sir. Unfair to make a comparison about the merits and demerits of what different era provided us… but definitely, life during those days was far slower than today… and media didn’t have to chase so many things so fast in so little time.

  2. Really interesting – things were indeed different . I like the story of Kundan being chased round the tarmac. Brought a smile to me.

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