हमारा तीसरा प्रयास सुल्ताना बेगम के लिए

हमारा तीसरा प्रयास: प्रधान मंत्री पर किताब बनाकर सुल्ताना बेगम कि स्थिति को उजागर करना और यथा संभव एक संभ्रांत सामाजिक जीवन प्रदान करना. लोकमत समाचार पत्र के मालिक विजय दरदा साहिब ने आर्थिक मदद कि और सुश्री ममता बनर्जी ने रोजगार दी. सुल्ताना बेगम भारत में अंतिम मुग़ल बादशाह बहादुर शाह ज़फ़र कि प्र-पौत्र बधू हैं और हावरा के एक झुग्गी में रहती है  
The then union minister for corporate affairs Mr. Salman
 Khurshid flanged with GIC-Re chairman Sri Yogesh Lohia,
 Neena Jha and Shivnath Jha releasing the book
Prime Ministers of India:Bharat Bhagya Vidhata
-1947-2009  in New Delhi on April 1, 2010
Sri Salman Khurshid addressing the media after the
release of the book in the national capital
Neena Jha and Smt. Sultana Begam
Shivnath Jha with Smt. Sultana Begum at her slum
in Howrah
Shivnath Jha talking with Sultana Begum at her Shibpur
slum in Howrah in West Bengal 
Sultana Begum at her tea shop in Shibpur in Howrah

Sri Vijay Darda, MP and owner of Lokmat
Group of newspaper flanked with Sri Rajiv Bagchi,
 Resident Editor of The Hindustan
Times handing ovber a draft of Rs. Two lakh
 to Smt Sultana Begum in Kolkata
on May 2, 2008
What The Indian Express said

It is said that some are wise while others are “otherwise” and it takes a lot of pain and efforts to bewordly -wise, especially in journalism.

At a time when the Fourth estate is fast becoming “fourth-rated Estate “and when watch-dogs have started becoming tail-wagers, holding forth those lofty ideals of journalism has become all the more difficult.

At a time when “soldiers of pen” have started assuming the role of “pen- pushers” with a price tag on most of their columns and comments, and at a time when more than 67000 publications and 56 TV news channels have started becoming signposts of ‘views’ than of ‘hardcore news’ with alarming regularity, pursuing journalism in its purest form has become mere on a premium than otherwise.

At a time when most of the members of our country have started taking pride in turning “trivia into titanic” and  injecting the venom of crime, sex and sleaze as daily doses for this generation both in print as well as on tube, it is all the more difficult to report on serious and sensitive matters confronting this country.

At a time when some self-professed champions of freedom of Press have no qualm or gumption in terming rural reporting as “sexy”, it would be anyone’s guess if a journalist’s reports on wails and woes of the rural masses would indeed find a place of prominence in any mainstream daily newspaper or national news channels.

It is in this context that the creation of ‘Shivnath and Neena Jha’ in the form of a book titled “Prime Ministers of India” comes as an oasis in desert.

It is in this context that the untiring and unflinching effort of a scribe towards doing something different through “Andolan - EK Pushtak se” needs to be seen and hugely appreciated.

Imagine the extraordinary brilliance of an 11 year old boy who chose Dr. Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s Madhushala as the spark to ignite and illuminate his future path.

Imagine the state of mind of a student of class VI from T.K. Ghosh Academy Patna who understood the message of ‘Madhushala’ in a Vedic way that one could always reach his goal by adopting the right means and working his way up hard through sheer determination, dedication, passion and discipline.

Imagine the spark in the eyes of a boy from an ordinary background who stole Rs.5 from his father’s currency box, bought newspapers from them at a bus stand and eared Rs.9.60 after 4 hours of toil.

Imagine the “dream to become a journalist” by a young boy who started his career neither from Dallas nor Doon but as a stranger for Telegraph by MJ Akbar and from there he never looked back. This is one of the most glittering examples of how sheer determination can make an ordinary man a Marshall. !

Known for his uncanny knack for looking for “news” in those areas and arenas where others treated them as trivia, Shivnath has been of the most well known journalists in the country with the distinction of having worked under Editors like Vir Sanghvi, H.K. Dua, C.R. Irani, Prabhu Chawla and Sekhar Gupta. Some of his investigative reports in both Telegraph and Indian Express could easily be hailed as the” finest in the history of contemporary journalism”.

In my 28 years of journalistic career through both print and electronic media, I have rarely seen a scribe with such fierce sense of courage and conviction.

There were a few occasions when he threw away his job and tossed up his resignation at the face of the Editor when he realized that he would not be able to compromise on his convictions and commitments. And that made him all the more hard and steady in his resolve and this book is yet another land mark of that path of struggle with a nerve of steel and the determination of a spider.

But then Shivnath has always been quite different from the lot, full of grit and guts and he always dares to plough through those furrows where others are dithering.

His passion for breaking new grounds and exploring those areas where others feel exhausted has taken him into a journey of an extraordinary kind along with his illustrious wife, Neena Jha.

The first chapter of such journey was the monograph on Shahnai legend Ustad Bismillah Khan which not only established him as a ‘crusader for a cause’ but also won him wholesome praise and appreciation from various quarters. Interestingly, he dedicated this book to newspaper hawkers and three of his journalist friends – Sanjeev Sinha, Ranjan Jha and Anju Sharma who died in a plane crash with senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia.

The second milestone in his journey was the discovery in June 2007 of Mr. Vinayak Rao Tope, the third generation descendant of Tatya Tope, a frontline leader and a martyr of 1857 Indian Mutiny. Shivnath and Neena, not only identified and rescued him but also ensured a job for two daughters of Vinayak Rao Tope in Container Corporation of India through the help of then Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

This book is perhaps his " magnum opus," aimed at rehabilitating and re-locating Sultan Begum, the great grand daughter of hero of 1857 Mutiny – Bahadur Shah Zafar who is languishing in Howrah locality of Kolkata and earning her livelihood by selling tea.

This book is indeed unique in many ways.

1. Apart from extraordinary layout and printing, it contains signatures of all prime ministers in page no 15 and I am sure, not many people in this country would have seen it all at one place. Many people would still remember signatures of Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi and even Rajiv Gandhi but perhaps would not be able to quickly recognize signatures of most of other prime ministers.

2. This book has a fair amount of sprinkling of those landmark speeches made by our prime ministers on most crucial moments of Indian political history. The most prominent is the midnight speech of Pandit Nehru and his most famous line” At the stroke of midnight hour when the world sleeps, India would awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”

3. This books also contains some rare photographs of our prime Ministers in different moods and occasions as that of Dr Ambedkar and is indeed a visual treat.

4. Professor Bipan Chandra has done justice to his essay on the architect of modern India, Pandit Nehru and Sunil Shastri’s account of his illustrious father, late Lal Bahadu shastri is illuminating. Mani Shankar Aiyar has his own imitable style while writing on Late Rajiv Gandhi while Salman khurshid is equally fascinating and fabulous while writing on Dr Manmohan singh.

On the whole, this book is a great treasure trove for this generation of viewers as well as for those who would like to delve into the sands of time and recall those historical moments of this nation and those Captains who were at the helm then.

One can question a generous display of photos of Mr Subrato Roy of Sahara and Mr Ashok Chavan of Amity with various Prime Ministers but then that is the price a journalist has to pay in lieu of publication, endorsement as well as advertisement. But that in no way, takes away the credit of both Shivnath and Neena for such a painstaking effort and bringing out such a Marvellous book.

(Ajay Nath Jha was Consultant to Speaker and Lok Sabha television)


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