At a special session with the Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley, the Indian Journalists Association launched its 70 anniversary celebration activities inLondon.
IJA’s newly elected president Ashis Ray said there were plans to mark the founding day on May 29 with a special event, and a commemoration banquet later in the year. The plans include an international seminar on a news media-related topic.
Finance Minister of India, Arun Jaitley lauded the contribution of Indian journalists in UK in providing a comprehensive coverage of happenings in Europeto its audience back in India. Jaitley was in London to attend the launch of Indo-UK year of culture at Buckingham Palace.
“London is the hub of global activities,” said Jaitley. He said, “The news and cultural events taking place in London is always interesting to the Indian audience. The large Indian diaspora in Britain had also increased interest in what appears in Indian papers, he noted, adding that the economy of the news media had increased the size of organisations and the number of newspapers, television channels and websites.
“From a relatively important but suppressed role in the past, you are more than a mainstream player now, because London is unquestionably one of the most important news centres of the world”, he said.
The Indian Journalists Association (IJA) was founded on May 29, 1947 – just weeks before India’s Independence — as a representative body for Britain-based correspondents and journalists reporting on and covering India- and South Asia-related issues. Its membership today comprises representatives of major media outlets focused on covering stories from Britain and Europe with an Indian perspective. Prominent names in Indian journalism have been its members and presidents over the decades.
IJA was reinvigorated on 17 August 2009 with the adoption of a new constitution, which considerably expanded the base of the organisation. It also introduced hitherto non-existent gender equality.
Over the years, heads of state, heads of government, members of royal families and eminent persons in various walks of life have attended IJA events, which have ranged from media conferences to celebrated annual dinners.
Guests have included Jawaharlal Nehru, Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, P V Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Clement Atlee, Harold McMillan, Alec Douglas Home, Harold Wilson, Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Margaret Thatcher and the Duke of Edinburgh.#
Two-time British prime minister Wilson said at an IJA event: “I must record the great debt both India and Britain owe to your association, which does so much to enable our peoples to understand each other, and by so understanding, come even closer together.”
Some of the earliest IJA members were K Shelvankar of The Hindu (later ambassador to the USSR), Sundar Kabadi of Amrita Bazar Patrika, Tarapada Basu of Ananda Bazar Patrika and Iqbal Singh of Patriot.
Other prominent members included S Nihal Singh (The Statesman), Sunanda K Datta-Ray (The Statesman), JD Singh (The Times of India), Rakshat Puri (Hindustan Times), MK Razdan (Press Trust of India) and Batuk Gathani (The Hindu).