• Pranab Mukherjee: The politician who rose above politics

      India has had some outstanding presidents; it has also had a few presidents about whom it could be said did not live up to expectations. However, all presidents were decent, honourable people who served the world’s largest democracy most conscientiously. One of the most illustrious Presidents was Prof Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, a world-renowned academic and philosopher. Radhakrishnan, a close friend of Jawaharlal Nehru, was also an educationalist who played a major role in the creation of the new education system that incorporated many of our ancient learning features while at the same time blending harmoniously with modern requirements. Today, India is one of the most scientifically, technologically and culturally advanced nations in the world, overwhelmingly the product of a visionary and foresighted educational system bequeathed to the nation by India’s first independent government. Like Nehru, Radhakrishnan was a socialist, both embracing the doctrine of non-alignment and secularism. Pranab Mukherjee, who grew up in the Nehru era, was greatly inspired by perhaps the most idealistic Indian government in history. From very early on he championed socialism, non-alignment and India’s bold stand against colonial oppression. Today the fight against imperialism is virtually history, but in Mukherjee’s youth it had been a potent factor. India too, had suffered the depredations of the vile creed of imperialism but thanks to the heroic resolve of the Indian people. Mukherjee read widely – a habit that persisted until his death – and acquired a good, all-round education before he entered the political arena. Even in his early days as a worker for the Congress Party, he firmly rejected the notion that politics was all about superficial agitation. He insisted that one must have a solid educational background, which - combined with an analytical mind - is indispensable for political success. That accounts for his unstoppable rise from his beginnings in West Bengal legislature to his very high positions successively holding the key portfolios, including those of external affairs and finance in the Government. Mukherjee, like Mahatma Gandhi, had always seen politics as an instrument to change the lives of his people and he was as passionate about this mission as was his former leader, Indira Gandhi. His incisive political and economic analysis won him many admirers from the media, his own party and even some members of the opposition. He was also highly regarded internationally, particularly by governments in Washington, London, Berlin and Moscow. Dr Manmohan Singh the former Indian Prime Minister, himself a formidable economist thought highly of Mukherjee. Although integrity and incorruptibility were considered to be in short supply in Indian politics, Mukherjee with “his unblemished record in public life&rdq

  • Robert Govender, pioneer of decolonised journalism, announced as recipient of Krishna Menon Award 2019

      The late G D 'Robert' Govender, the South Africa born journalist of the Indian diaspora and pioneer of decolonised journalism, has been named as the recipient of the VK Krishna Menon Award 2019.   During a career spanning nearly 60 years, Govender developed a reputation as a campaigning journalist and author. The youngest newspaper editor in South Africa's history when he took the helm of the Indian Mirror in 1950, he was also the first journalist to call for an international boycott of South Africa's whites only sports teams. His books included the much acclaimed The Martyrdom of Patrice Lumumba which exposed the role of Western intelligence agencies in the murder of the Congolese independence leader.   The posthumous award was announced during an event to mark V K Krishna Menon's 123rd birth anniversary hosted by the V K Krishna Menon Institute (VKKMI) on 3 May at the Nehru Centre, London.   Acting Director of London's Nehru Centre, Brij Guhare welcomed guests including the Deputy High Commissioner Charanjeet Singh, Dr Mohal Kaul, (Executive Chairman of ALGLOTECH and a former Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council), Dayantha 'Dai' Liyanage MBE (former Mayor of Medway), Councillor Sunil Chopra (former Mayor of Southwark) and Newham Councillor Sugathan Thekkeppurayil to the annual event.   The Deputy High Commissioner stated th

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