London: Veteran British journalist Sir William Mark Tully was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award here for his contributions to the UK-India relationship.
Mark Tully, the former Bureau Chief of BBC, New Delhi, received a standing ovation on Friday from the gathering as he said that being in India was his karma.
“I owe a great debt to India and I have been rewarded way beyond my expectations,” said 83-year-old Mark Tully, who has been previously knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in the UK and conferred with the Padma Bhushan in India.
Sir William Mark Tully: A journey in journalism
Tully joined the BBC in 1964 and moved back to India in 1965 to work as the India correspondent. He covered all major incidents in South Asia during his tenure, ranging from Indo-Pakistan conflicts, Bhopal gas tragedy, Operation Blue Star (and the subsequent assassination of Indira Gandhi, anti-Sikh riots), the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to the demolition of Babri Masjid.
Tully was barred from entering India during Emergency in 1975–77 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had imposed censorship curbs on the media.
Tully resigned from BBC in July 1994, after an argument with John Birt, the then director-general. He accused Birt of “running the corporation by fear” and “turning the BBC into a secretive monolith with poor ratings and a demoralised staff”.
In 1994, Tully presented an episode of BBC’s Great Railway Journeys “Karachi to The Khyber Pass” travelling by train across Pakistan. Since 1994, he has been working as a freelance journalist and broadcaster based in New Delhi.
Tully was the regular presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 programme Something Understood until the channel announced its cessation in 2019.
As a guest of the Bangalore Initiative for Religious Dialogue on 7 October 2010, the renowned journalist spoke on “How certain should we be? The problem of religious pluralism”. He described his experiences and the fact that India had historically been home to all the world’s major religions. He said that had taught him that there are many ways to God.
Tully is a patron of the British branch of Child in Need India (CINI UK). While Tully is well versed in English naturally, he is quite comfortable striking a conversation in Hindi.
Other India-UK awards
The annual UK-India Awards, which celebrate special talents and organisations who use their worldwide influence to strengthen UK-India ties, included wins for British Telecom (BT) in the Social Impact category and Indian hospitality start-up Oyo in the Market Entrant of the Year category.
While British Indian actor Kunal Nayyar — best known for his role as Rajesh Koothrappali on the US sitcom ‘The Big Bang Theory’ — was named Global Indian Icon of the Year, Indian-origin peer and Cobra Beer founder Lord Karan Bilimoria were presented with a special Significant Contribution to UK-India Relations Award.
“The UK is a wonderful global power and if there is a special relationship, it is with India,” said Bilimoria.
The start-up of the Year Award, sponsored by Indian software services major Infosys, was won by Maanch, a new platform that matches up funders and receivers to accelerate global sustainable development.
“Maanch is an impact technology and it is designed to really bring the world together for sustainability so that we can invest and give money in a way that has the highest impact. An award like this is an important validation because technologies like these are new,” said Founder & CEO Darshita Gillies.
The awards marked the conclusion of the annual UK-India Week, which kicked off on Monday with the first-ever India Day in the Houses of Parliament in London. Some of the other winners of the night included Fund of the Year for SoftBank Investment Advisers, Law Firm of the Year for the UK’s Baker McKenzie, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency of the Year for Manchester India Partnership, Deal of the Year for EverSource Capital/ Lightsource BP and Finance Organisation of the Year for AXIS Bank Limited.
The UK-India Awards, now in their third year, were selected by an all-women judging panel for the first time, including Director and Chief Counsel of Rolls-Royce plc Deborah D’Aubney and prominent Indian-origin anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.
“All the winners and nominees are inspirational figures at the cutting edge of technology, innovation, business, international relations, and culture, who are doing amazing work in making that UK-India partnership a truly winning one,” said Manoj Ladwa, Founder & CEO of India Inc. – the organisation behind the awards.