Dr. A. Surya Prakash
Dr. A. Surya Prakash is an author and Columnist and a leading commentator on Indian constitutional and parliamentary issues and governance. Apart from his pioneering work on Parliament, Dr.Surya Prakash is known for his well-researched interventions on national political issues.
A. Surya Prakash has held key positions in several print and electronic media organisations. He was Editor, Zee News, a 24-hour TV News Channel; Executive Editor, The Pioneer; India Editor, Asia Times, a business and political daily published from Bangkok and Singapore; Political Editor, Eenadu Group of Newspapers; and Chief of Bureau, Indian Express, New Delhi.
He has also been a media teacher and has taught media law and ethics. He is the Founder-Director of the Film and Media School at the Institute of Integrated Learning in Management, New Delhi and Founder- Director of the Pioneer Media School. He is currently a Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation, a New Delhi based Think-Tank and Director, India Foundation, New Delhi. He is also Consulting Editor of The Pioneer. Currently his columns appear in The Pioneer, Dainik Jagran, Eenadu, Samyukta Karnataka and The Indian Republic.
Surya Prakash began his tryst with journalism when he joined the Indian Express as a Correspondent at Bangalore in 1971. This multi-edition newspaper owned by the fiery Ramnath Goenka was the best available platform for gutsy journalists like Surya Prakash with an anti-establishment bent of mind. After honing his skills in investigative journalism in Bangalore and winning many laurels from professional bodies, Surya Prakash moved to New Delhi in 1981.The shift to the national capital instantly took his journalism onto a larger canvass and gave him a ring side seat to parliament and other national institutions.
He was appointed Chief of Bureau of the Indian Express in New Delhi in 1988. Some years hence, disappointed by the virtual dysfunctionality of Parliament, Surya Prakash, supported by a K.K.Birla Fellowship, took a sabbatical to study the working of India's apex legislative body. The result was 'What Ails Indian Parliament', published in 1995 by Indus, an imprint of HarperCollins, which is hailed as the most definitive text on the working of India's parliament after W.H.Morris-Jones ' Parliament in India', published in 1957.
His more recent work on Parliament – Public Money, Private Agenda – The Use and Misuse of MPLADS, published by RUPA IN 2013 has won critical acclaim and revived the debate for scrapping the controversial Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme that costs the exchequer Rs 4000 crores annually.
Surya Prakash has several more publications on the working of India's Parliament including chapters in many books. Among them are: "Need to Regulate the Working of Political Parties" in G.C.Malhotra (Ed.), "Fifty Years of Indian Parliament", published by Lok Sabha Secretariat, New Delhi, 2002 ; "Parliamentary Questions as Instruments of Accountability" in Mehra and Kueck, (Ed.)," The Indian Parliament- A comparative Perspective", Konark Publishers Pvt Ltd, Delhi, 2003; 'Seeking Accountability – Parliament Watch' in Social Watch India's 'Citizen's Report on Governance and Development', Ed by John Samuels and Jagadananda, published by Centre for Youth and Development, Bhubaneshwar and National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune, 2003 'Parliament and the Media – Joint Venture Partners in Democracy' in 'Working of Press Laws and Right to Information', India Chapter, South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), 2004; Parliament, Courts and Media, Dialogue Quarterly, October –December, 2005, Astha Bharati, New Delhi; 'Votes, Elections, Governments – The Indian Experience', EU –India Media Handbook, European Journalists Association and National Union of Journalists, India, 2006.
Apart from his pioneering work on Parliament, Surya Prakash is known for his well-researched interventions on national political issues. In the Indian Express he first raised the issue of granting weightage to the Southern States in the event of an upward revision of the strength of the Lok Sabha, the lower House of Indian Parliament. He argued that since the southern states had popularized the Union Government's Family Planning Programme and brought down the birth rates in that region, revision in the strength of parliament based only on the population of states would amount to penalizing states which had conscientiously implemented an important national programme. Several Chief Ministers from the South and prominent political parties in that region soon joined the campaign. The result is that the strength of the Lok Sabha, which has 543 elected seats, stands frozen till the year 2026. Demographers hope that most of the Indian States will have brought down the Net Reproductive Rate by then.
Two other interventions of his which had a significant impact on the working of Parliament was his campaigns for introduction of the committee system in Indian Parliament and for televising the proceedings of the two Houses. The committee system was launched in 1993 and the decision to televise the entire proceedings of the two Houses was taken a few years hence.
In 1998, he raised the issue of Ms.Sonia Gandhi's citizenship in a series of articles in The Pioneer and argued that the conditionalities attached to the citizenship of naturalized citizens like her under the Indian Citizenship Act made her unfit for the office of Prime Minister. These articles resulted in an intense national debate on Ms.Gandhi's citizenship and her right to hold public office during national elections held in 1998, 1999 and 2004. These arguments regarding the constitutional, legal and political issues surrounding the political rights of naturalized citizens in India eventually culminated in the publication of 'Sonia Under Scrutiny – Issue of Foreign Origin', Edited by Surya Prakash in 2004. This book was published by India First Foundation.
Surya Prakash was awarded the K.K.Birla Fellowship to study the working of Indian Parliament in 1992. He also secured a fellowship from the Frederick Ebert Foundation to study the working of Standing Committees of the German Bundestag in 1993. He has traveled widely and studied the working of the German and British Parliaments. He was a Member of the Lok Sabha Fellowship Committee, that awards fellowships annually to scholars studying parliamentary institutions. He is also recipient of the Karnataka Rajyotsava Award; the Sardar Patel Fellowship from the Institute of Policy Studies; the Karnataka Patrika Academy Award; and the Bipan Chandra Pal Sanman for 'Fearless Journalism' apart from the K.K.Birla Fellowship and the Frederick Ebert Fellowship mentioned earlier.
Surya Prakash has a Masters' in Sociology from Mysore University and a D.Litt from Tumkur University.