Forty years ago, June 12, 1979: PM Moraji Desai in Moscow
Prime Minister Morarji Desai flew into Moscow to a warm reception by the Soviet leadership with Leonid Brezhnev driving up to the Vnekova airport to receive him. Also present at the airport were Soviet Prime Minister Alexie Kosygin, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and other leaders of the Soviet Union. Those who keenly watch the subtleties of Soviet protocol say Brezhnev’s decision to receive the Indian PM indicates the importance Moscow is attaching to the talks with Desai.
This will be the first time Brezhnev and Desai are meeting since the Indian prime minister visited the Soviet Union two years ago, although Kosygin had long talks with Desai only in March this year.
Curbing Free Press
The recent extension of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act to the printing industry has dismayed the votaries of press freedom. They view the amendment of the Act as a backdoor method to strengthen the government’s stranglehold on newspapers in utter disregard of the pledge given in the Janata Party manifesto — to safeguard the freedom of the press by repealing the Prevention of Publication of Objectionable Matters Act and restoring immunity in reporting legislative proceedings. While the draconian legislation has been repealed, the amendment of IRDA has given the government powers to control every aspect of the newspaper industry, including production, distribution and management.
India-USSR Space Trip
Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev proposed that India and the Soviet Union should carry out a joint space flight with an Indian cosmonaut in the 1980s. Brezhnev made the offer at the summit meeting with PM Morarji Desai at the Kremlin. Desai said India will give deep consideration to the proposal. He thanked the Soviet Union for assistance it had given to India in the past in space and other scientific and technical fields.