Jamshedpur, July 13: Leading British journalist Ian Jack has reported on India extensively. Jack, a former Editor of Granta and a Guardian columnist, talked about writing, publishing and his fascination with India.
Impressed by the progress India has made over the last 2 decades Jack said that from 1977 to 1986 I reported from South Asia and lived for long stretches in Delhi and Kolkata – a period that included both Mrs Gandhi’s Emergency and her assassination, but the growing Indian economy has taken the world by storm and India holds a firm position in the world.
Talking to the media persons on the sidelines of interactive session on Fiction or Non-fiction: which should you trust? organized by Association of British Scholars (Jamshedpur Chapter) at Centre For Excellence on Monday evening, Jack said, Indian economy is growing at a very fast pace and as like earlier times when I used to come to India from UK, friends and colleagues of mine used to tell me to bring Mark and Spencers Shirts but now everything is available at every location of India.
“This is my very first visit to Jamshedpur and the roads of this Steel City are really good and can be compared with European country. The greenery and number of trees make for a beautiful look of the city. There is no unnecessary honking on the roads and everything looks planned out there”. Tata Steel has planned out this city and Tata is a big name all over the world specially in UK were they own Jaguar & Land Rover and Corus Group, added the avid journalist.
India seemed quite remote when I first visited — the Ambassador cars, the steam engines, red post boxes, English spoken in an Anglicised rather than Americanised way.
It was in an engaging kind of time warp. It was a much more socialistic-looking place — family planning slogans, exhortations from Nehru and Gandhi to do this or that. Apart from Britannia biscuits and Amul’s Utterly Butterly, it wasn’t a consumerist society, it was more austere.
Now it’s a more modern society, one doesn’t come here any more to look for quaint things. The world is present here as quickly as, if not more quickly than, in Britain. But as far as the bigger things go — are there fewer or more poor people here — I don’t know. But certainly, money is what you notice here.
Talking about the newspaper industry, Jack who himself has worked with The Independent and was also the co-founder of the Independent on Sunday said that the Indian newspaper industry is here to stay as with the growing literate population the newspapers are profitable in India as compared to UK or America.
“The revenue of the newspapers depend on the advertisements and most of the newspapers going digital in UK the profit has decreased which is not the case in India”, added Jack.
Also present at the event were Dr Anita Gupta, President, ABS and Samarjit Guha of British Council, Kolkata
It may be noted that Ian Jack is a Scottish journalist who was the editor of the literary magazine Granta from 1995 to 2007.
After working on several newspaper in Scotland in the 1960s, he was a journalist at The Sunday Times from 1970 to 1986, working as a reporter, editor, feature writer and foreign correspondent in India, from where he covered the Indian Subcontinent and regional hotspots including Afghanistan. Between 1977 and 1989, he lived mainly in Calcutta and New Delhi.