Interesting People in My Life V-Prakash Hindustani-The Hero of Hindi Journalism

The Art and Science of Living (and Journalism)

Prakash was part of the launch team of Webduniya (Webworld), India’s first Hindi website. Presently he is the Head of Madhya Pradesh Bureau of a new Hindi news channel to be launched soon. He also posts frequently on Facebook in Hindi (ironies, satires and what not, 5,000 plus friends) and gives preference in replying to the comments posted in Hindi even if they use Roman script.
Prakash recently wrote on Facebook, “In our day to day life, we are constantly using products and services created and innovated by others and our life is so comfortable because of sacrifices and efforts of so many people, living or dead. How dare we can be ungrateful?” So true and touching (Are we not ungrateful pigs very often?) Prakash being much older to me, I address him as Prakashji (ji being a symbol of respect in Indian culture, but for readers convenience, I will leave out the ji) He is such a balanced person, successful in all the roles he plays, he deserves it. He gives a good example of traditional Indian culture and says, “My elder brother just gives me a call and says you need to come at so and so time to so and so place and I accept gracefully without asking the purpose.”
I really appreciate people like Prakash who are helping in survival of national/regional languages as their very existence is threatened by the international onslaught of English. Even Mark Tully (Former BBC correspondent for India) talks of emergence of monoculture. He says the national and regional cultures are under attack and the entire world is moving towards western (or homogeneous) mono culture. All citizens of the world should learn English so that we have a common language to connect with each other (I do not believe in linguistic chauvinism) but we should not forget our mother tongue, a source of pride and a source of rich literature (which often loses its charm during translation).
India is more of a sub-continent than a nation with strong regional identities. Though on one hand Europe is taking lessons from India on how to unite diverse cultures and films like Chak De India are encouraging Indian people to consider them Indians first (and down play their regional identities), but Indians still have a long way to go. In India one can easily identify the province/state of a person based on the surname used. So Prakash removed his surname (which shows regional and casteist identity) and added Hindustani (Indian) as his surname. My salute to all such people and even people who write their surnames in initials only to disguise regional identity.
The Art of Living by Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has won international acclaim (though I personally believe in the art and science of living, isn’t life about logic and scientific thinking too?). Prakash shared some interesting experiences he has had in the advanced ‘The Art of Living’ camp he had attended. In the residential retreat, newspapers and TV are not allowed as they are full of negative news and are called blood pressure (increasing) machines. Mobiles are not allowed and the trainer tries to prove the fact that we are not indispensable (as we think) and the world continues to run in spite of our absence. Too much money is not required to be happy is another idea which is demonstrated. A game often played is the blindfolding game in which half of the participants are blindfolded and are advised to develop complete trust in their partner (a stranger, who does not have a blindfold). Participants are asked to share their problems to demonstrate that everyone has problems and you are not the only victims of circumstances in the world.
In between our discussion, he quizzes me, “If there were 5 birds on a tree and 3 decided to fly, how many birds are still left?” Oh my God, how can we be so foolish and quick in jumping to conclusions as he points out that 3 birds have only decided to fly and they have not actually flown.
Being a journalist Prakash comfortably shifts from the spiritual world to the world of crime as he shared the typical life of a criminal. (A friend of him stayed in a chawl in Indore city which also housed many criminals) He says a criminal does not have a fixed time of leaving and coming and has no fixed route for travel. After all his life is constantly under threat and he does not want to take any chance anywhere. The criminals also tend to feel insecure all the time and are often extra nice to their neighbors and are constantly looking for allies. If he is sitting in a restaurant/bar he always faces the entrance and not the wall and is alert to any visitor who is coming. Immediately after taking his seat in the restaurant the first thing a criminal does is to look for bottles, fork or anything else which has the potential to be used as a weapon in case of emergency (in case he is not carrying a weapon). Indore city (from where Prakash Hindustani hails) is also called Mini Mumbai as it matches Mumbai in mafia, crime and smuggling besides the booming legal businesses.
Prakash says, “Money makes people more formal and distant (may be due to insecurity or pride or both). The higher the class in which one travels in Indian Railways, the more formal and distant people become. To interact with people and to know their real stories, it becomes necessary to travel in lower classes and bear the discomfort at times.”
I remember another interesting experience I had at Indore Press Club when I was in Indore and accompanying Prakash. A government official had attacked a cameraman and broken his camera the day before and an emergency meeting had been called. 3-4 senior journalists expressed their views on what action needs to be taken. Soon a consensus was reached that since Chief Minister was visiting Indore tomorrow and he had to be pressed to immediately suspend the government official (without enquiry). The next day the CM announced the suspension of the official. I was highly impressed with the speed of decision making and immediate action which happened. The decision making tends to be generally slow in India with focus on consensus. The power of media…..
I was in love with my mother tongue Hindi in childhood days and the MBA & career race forced me into English. But I have still read the Hindi classics which the young generation of today hardly does (especially in westernized metros of India). Prakash inspires me to say, “Proud to be an Indian, proud of my mother tongue, Hindi”
To know more about Prakash Hindustani, click here
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