Fearless journalist, voice of peace

Kuldip Nayar

Kuldip Nayar, who passed way on Wednesday, was not only a journalist but also a commentator, author, peace and human rights activist, diplomat and parliamentarian, who left an imprint in every one of those endeavours. He was among the best-known journalists of post-Independence India and had the largest readership for an individual at the national level, across states and languages, for the longest period. This was because his columns and commentaries appeared in about 80 newspapers within the country and outside, including in Pakistan. He had also held senior positions in many newspapers and always practised and upheld the best ideals of journalism. He was jailed during the Emergency for opposing it and standing up for citizens’ freedoms, including the freedom of expression, which he held precious and for which he fought all his life. He had sterling personal and professional qualities that made him the great newsman that he was — curiosity, honesty, integrity, a humane perspective, social commitment, good sense of judgement and hard work, all of which he retained till the very end of his life. 

As a peace activist, he actively campaigned for better relations and peace with Pakistan. He was also part of the Track II process that kept the efforts for peace alive even in difficult times. This was not only because he was born in Sialkot in present-day Pakistan, but because he earnestly believed that the people of the two countries and the subcontinent would only benefit from peace. His annual candle light vigil on the Wagah border on August 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, which also happened to be his birthday, has become a symbol of the striving for peace between the two countries. He believed that emotional, political, economic and practical reasons would sooner or later make that real. 

He was a champion of human rights and opposed their denial and violations anywhere by governments, the armed forces or any other group. He was also deeply and genuinely secular and liberal, and imbibed and represented the humanistic and most progressive ideals of free India and its constitutional values. He fought against hatred and intolerance and never compromised on the values and beliefs that he held dear. He has been associated for long with this newspaper as a writer and commentator and as a director of the company, The Printers (Mysore) Pvt Ltd, which publishes this paper and its sister publications. This valuable association will be missed. Millions of his readers, the world of journalism and the nation as such will miss the man who had become an icon and the face of good journalism for many decades in the country. 

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Fearless journalist, voice of peace

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