sree's lowercase world | talks | nayar

[April 9, 1999: The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin and SAJA hosted a dinner in honor of Kuldip Nayar, one of India's most respected journalists, in NYC. Outside the restaurant, a group of right-wing Hindu activists set-up a picket line to protest Nayar's appearance and shouted slogans against him, accusing him of being, among other things, a "Pakistani agent." The following is the text I used to introduce him that night. Nayar was in the US to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois.]

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for joining us on a cold and rainy Friday night. Thank you also for dealing with the gathering outside. It's a badge of honor that they think our event worth protesting in this inclement weather. It's been said that you have not truly arrived until someone protests your work. It is the right of those opposed to our event to protest, and it is our right to have a stimulating evening of good company and good conversation...

Asking me to introduce Kuldip Nayar is like asking a young film director to introduce Cecile B. Demille. I hope I can do the assignment justice.

Few people can be really called a living legend in their line of work. Fewer still in the world of journalism, an industry filled with prima donnas and pretenders and intellectual lightweights.

But our speaker tonight is a true living legend, a man who does his profession proud and his country prouder still.

Kuldip Nayar is a man of many parts: an author of 11--count 'em 11--books. An academic who has taught at several institutions of higher learning. A member of the Rajya Sabha, India's upper house of Parliament.

Quick story: Back in the summer of 1952, a young reporter applied to American universities for graduate programs in journalism. He was admitted to the place I teach at, Columbia, and to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He got a better scholarship from Medill and went there--Columbia's loss entirely. As you might have guessed, that reporter was Kuldipji. All these years later, he is back in the U.S. to get an lifetime achievement award from Northwestern.

Kuldipji is one of the best educated men I know--an education earned by being a streetwise reporter of many decades and, oh yes, backed up by a variety of official degrees. A bachelors, a law degree, that masters from Northwestern, and an honorary doctorate from Guru Nanak University in Amrtisar.

He has worked at almost every major Indian publication and written for several of the best in the West. He's a syndicated columnist whose writings appear in 80 newspapers.

And at a time when most journalists can only aspire to a stint working in London as a foreign correspondent or as a staffer on Fleet Street, Kuldipji became India's high commissioner to the Court of St. James.

Tonight he'll talk about about his outlook for peace and prosperity in South Asia, the current state of Indian media and the role of secularism today.

Once again, it's been my pleasure to introduce someone whose work has inspired me and generations of journalists. All right, Mr. Nayar, I am ready for my rewrite.

sree's lowercase world | talks | nayar