By Prem Prakash
New Delhi [India] July 18 (ANI) : Smriti Irani today took charge of a ministry that was once headed by no less a powerful person than the "Iron Man of India", Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, independent India's first deputy Prime Minster under Jawaharlal Nehru. He held charge of the Ministries of Home Affairs and Information and Broadcasting.
After the end of World War II, when Britain started preparing for departure from India and India's independence had become a foregone conclusion, first came an Interim Government of India taking office on September 2, 1946. The Interim Government was born by transforming the Viceroy's Executive Council, wherein the Viceroy was the President of the Council. It was now to be known as the Council of Ministers.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was bestowed with the powers of Prime Minister, though his position was Vice President of the Council. Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel took charge of the Home Department as also the Department of Information and Broadcasting as these Ministries were known then.
It is a little known fact that one of the first acts of the Interim Government was to dismantle the wartime newsreel - Indian News Parade. Indian National Congress and other freedom fighters considered this weekly newsreel as having been a vocal mouthpiece of the British Government propaganda that helped recruit the huge manpower for the British Indian Army, despite the Indian National Congress not supporting the war effort. It was the power of the 4th Indian Armoured Division that turned the tide of war in North Africa against Germany's advancing columns led by Gen. Rommel. Sardar Patel was said to have pushed for immediate closure of the newsreel - Indian News Parade that had a life from 1943 to 1946.
With the closure of Indian News Parade, this author's father, late Shri Wishva Nath, a photographer, saw an opportunity and launched what was India's first independent newsreel -Eastern Movies. That newsreel saw a ban within the first year of its launch. When the trial of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse got under way, Godse raised an objection in the court alleging that the trial was a sham for his face as an assassin was being shown all over India in cinemas by a newsreel running before the feature film. That newsreel was India News Parade, shot and produced by Independent India's first film journalists. The court immediately ordered the news service to be stopped.
Sir Akbar Hyderi who had been a member of the Viceroy's Council earlier, while regretting the decision of the Interim Government to shut the Indian News Review at the time of Independence had said that the day won't be far when the government of free India would need to revive it. And it did indeed, in the new avataar of Indian News Review.
When India became free , as a dominion in the Commonwealth of nations on August 15, 1947 Sardar Patel was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Home Ministry and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. He held the charge of Information Ministry till 1949. R.R. Diwakar took charge of the Information Ministry from Sardar Patel in 1949 when the great leader's health started failing.
In 2017, as Prime Minster Modi's Government enters the second half of its first term, the role of Information Minister is going to be crucial for the party and the government. It is the task of the Information and Broadcasting ministry to interpret and present the government's policies and achievements to the people via the media. That task now is Smriti Irani's who has a considerable presence in traditional and social media even before taking charge of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
Mr. Prem Prakash is the Chairman of ANI Media (P) Ltd. (ANI)
This story has not been edited. It has been published as provided by ANI