‘A fine tribute to a class of journalists lucky to be around at the right time’ — British Journalism Review
One of the most frequently visited posts on this blog has been something that I wrote in September last year on Foreign Correspondent: Fifty Years of Reporting South Asia, an anthology of more than 50 years of articles by members of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia, where I was then the president, to mark the club’s 50th anniversary.
Amazingly, the post has drawn Riding the Elephant’s third highest number of direct hits (around 2,250), after Nehru Was Lost For Years In A Trunk (nearly 3,000) and Tina Ambani Pays Record $25m At Christie’s Indian Art Auction (almost 2,500) .
That’s a long-winded way of getting round to say that an updated edition of the anthology is now available in paperback (Rs450*).
It’s a unique round-up of India’s past 50 or 60 years of history, as seen by foreign correspondents through the years – selected by three of us who are current correspondents on the basis of being interesting, well written and informative reportage that provides a broad sweep of the sub continent’s history.
‘The book left me wanting more’ – Mint
We have added four articles to the hardback edition’s total of about 80. They deal with events in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, and the terrorist attacks on Mumbai a year ago, plus the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 that we didn’t find in time last year.
It is sadly significant that the articles deal with South Asia’s increasingly serious security worries.
The article on the Mumbai terrorist attacks was written by a team of Wall Street Journal reporters led by Peter Wonacott and Matthew Rosenberg, graphically describing the horrific events. The good news is that there has not, so far at least, been a repeat of such an attack In India, and that the horror triggered the appointment of Palaniappan Chidambaram as India’s home minister – the first effective politician to hold the post for most of this decade.
The continuing decay of Pakistan was reported by James Astill of The Economist in February this year, when Richard Holbrooke, America’s not-very-successful (as is now apparent) special emissary to Pakistan and Afghanistan began to investigate the region’s problems. It is now becoming clear that Holbrooke is not the man for the job as Pakistan slides into deeper crisis, which is leaving a vacuum in Washington.
The last article in the book, by Emily Wax of the Washington Post, reported in May this year on the defeat of Tamil Tiger separatist-driven terrorists in Sri Lanka – and the dismal failure of the country’s Sinhalese-dominated government to pave the way for a permanent peace on the island.
This is a gloomy ending for our anthology, but it underlines the increasing risks and threats that the region faces alongside India’s growing economic success.
* The book is being published by Penguin India only in the Indian subcontinent, but some copies are emerging on international book-buying sites that will send anywhere in the world – to find them, search the title on Google.