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h. y. sharada prasad
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Holenarsipur Yoganarasimham Sharada Prasad (H. Y. Sharada Prasad) was a well-known freedom fighter, journalist, translator and a press information advisor to four Indian Prime Ministers – Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru (H. Y. S was editing ‘Yojana’ - a Government of India publication at that time), Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Sri Morarji Desai and Rajiv Gandhi. He was born on 15th of April, 1924 to Sri H. Yoganarasimham and Smt. Saraswathamma. His father was an erudite Sanskrit scholar and a musicologist. Mother was a well-known social worker who was one of the founders of “Makkala Koota” at Bangalore & Mysore.
H. Y. Sharada Prasad came into prominence during his B. A. (Hons.) student days at Maharaja College, Mysore. He was a brilliant student of English Literature and a debater. He was also president of the student union. He was taught by such eminent professors as J. C. Rollo, S. Srikanta Sastri and A. N. Murthy Rao. As a student leader, he was deeply involved in the 1942 Quit India movement. He was arrested and jailed in Mysore & Bangalore prisons twice during his college days. He spent totally sixteen months in jail from 10 August, 1942 to December 1942 and from 20 February, 1943 to 9 December 1943. In his prison diary (A Window on the Wall), he has narrated his encounters with other great leaders and the depressing atmosphere of an Indian prison. His B. A. (Hons.) education was resumed after he was released from jail. H. Y. Sharada Prasad later got married to Smt. Kamalamma – a contemporary of his while at Maharaja’s College, Mysore and a honours graduate in Psychology.
H. Y. Sharada Prasad who was called ‘Shouri’ by near and dear ones left for Bombay to pursue a career in Journalism in ‘The Indian Express Group’. During 1955 – 56, he was ‘Nieman Fellow’ in Journalism at Harvard University. After this stint, he moved on to New Delhi to take up the post of Assistant Editor of ‘Yojana’ – a journal of Planning Commission of India. During this period, by organizing an exhibition on India’s Economic Development, he caught the attention of Prime Minister Nehru. Later, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi invited him to join PMO as an Information Adviser. After Emergency, when Morarji Desai became Prime Minister, he continued to hold his post despite a sea of change in the PMO. After the return of Mrs. Gandhi to power in 1980, Shouri continued to be her confidante counsellor. When Rajiv Gandhi became PM after his mother’s assassination, Shouri continued to serve him for some time. Sharada Prasad was instrumental in the establishment of The Indian Institute of Mass Communication and The National Institute of Design. His close proximity to the powerful personalities did not alter his character. He remained humble, modest and simple as ever.
Everyone admired him for not misusing his position either for personal aggrandizement or to shower favours upon friends and relatives. Sharada Prasad’s love for Kannada Literature came to be manifested through his translation of ‘Swamy and his Friends’ by R. K. Narayan into Kannada. He was a great admirer and friend of Jnana Peeta award winner Dr Shivaram Karanth. His intense and penetrating interview with Dr Shivaram Karanth was telecast by Doordharshan in two instalments. He was a personal friend and host to artists like Pt. Mallikarjun Mansur and Bharat Ratna Smt. M. S. Subbalakshmi. In fact, M. S. Subbulakshmi has sung the Sanskrit compositions of H. Yoganarasimham and thereby immortalized him. After retiring from active service, his dream was to settle down in Bangalore and edit a Kannada Newspaper. Alas, that was never realised.
His siblings have achieved equal eminence in other fields. His younger brother - H. Y. Rajagopal is an expert in Hydraulic Engineering settled in Pennsylvania, USA, H. Y. Mohanram a renowned botanist who discovered a new species of Orchids named after him (Cheirostylis Mohanramii), younger sister H. Y. Kasthuri – a qualified psychologist and Neeraja Achyutha Rao – an accomplished Carnatic classical singer settled in Mysore. When his first son met the visa officer at the U. S. Embassy for a student visa after standing in queue for five hours, the visa officer was taken aback that a high ranking PMO official’s son had not used his father’s influence to get a visa without the usual hassles! Later, the Consul General of U. S. Embassy wrote a letter of appreciation to H. Y. Sharada Prasad lauding his son’s behaviour. Like an ordinary citizen, Sharada Prasad went to PMO everyday by the city bus!
This true great patriot and Gandhian passed away on 2nd September, 2008 at the age of 84 years. He is author of two books – his prison diary titled “A Window on the Wall’ and “The Book I won’t be writing and other Essays”. He has been conferred with ‘Padma Bhushana’ in 1999 and ‘The Indira Gandhi award for National Integration’.