Saturday, February 24, 2007

"Death of a Reader"

Bhupinder has an apt and a great title for the post. Veteran Journalist and columnist Sham Lal passed away yesterday. The Hindu has more details.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a condolence message, remembered Mr. Sham Lal as a "great editor, a thoughtful writer and a voice of reason, liberal values and patriotism."

Describing him as a "media icon of my generation," Dr. Singh said: "Generations of his readers looked forward to reading his columns for his wit and wisdom and his erudition. I hope his inspiring example will continue to guide Indian journalism."

I read his collection of previously published columns, book reviews and essays "A Hundred Encounters" with great interest and enthusiasm. It was difficult to believe that such erudite and wide ranging articles were published in a newspaper, that too in The Times of India, which has now virtually become the symbol of the death of mainstream intellectual culture in India.

The most impressive and easily recognisable thing about his writing was the manner in which he distanced himself from his subject and yet remain committed to essenntial values of freedom, justice and truth. That was the reason why they remained of great interest even years after they were first written and published. It was in that book that I first came across names of people like Derrida, Adorno, Hobsbawm and so many others. A review of the book from The Tribune and The Hindu.

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