Even God cries when the best come to join Him

16 July 2007

In what can only be pettiness of an obscene level, India’s biggest English language newspaper group as a matter of policy does not print obituaries of its editors and journalists even if they perish while being on the rolls (although a glorious exception will soon have to be made).

How heartwarming, on the other hand, to see this touching tribute in the Indian Express to Prakash Kardaley, a former editor of the paper who died in Poona on Sunday afternoon, at the age of 65:

From the time he walked into the Express office on January 14, 1967, to the day he left on February 28, 2007 as Senior Editor (Express Initiatives), Kardaley built for himself and the newspaper a formidable reputation based on the finest tenets of journalistic pursuits.

Fearless, frank and blessed with an intrinsic ability to grasp the crux of any issue and adopt the most effective method of tackling it, he blazed a trail of citizen journalism that was unparalleled. The result was a series of campaigns that he undertook for Poona, a city he lived in and loved unconditionally, that propelled many civic changes and improvements that the citizens have witnessed in recent years.

His was a byline that came to be associated with in-depth knowledge, an accurate analysis of issues and most importantly, an impeccable integrity that shone through every issue he raked up and pursued to its logical conclusion. Throughout his relentless fight against road encroachment by mandals during Ganeshotsav, misuse of basements, building activity on hill tops, welfare of the citizens remained not his foremost, but only aim.

Prakash Kardaley was the founder of the Pune Edition of The Indian Express and its Resident Editor from 1989 to 2000 after which he continued to function in the newspaper as Senior Editor (Express Initiatives). Kardaley founded the Express Citizens Forum, a joint initiative with activist citizens. He was also the coordinator of the Express Citizens’ War Memorial, a move that was also a reflection of his unflinching respect for the defence forces of the country.

He spearheaded the initiative for the erection of the War Memorial that today stands as an important landmark in Pune, and bears the names of all post-Independence martyrs from Maharashtra.

Over the past few years it’s been the RTI Act that brought out the best in him who has stood for complete transparency at all levels of functioning.

Elsewhere, the American cartoonist Doug Marlette was buried in a country churchyard on Saturday, and Joe Klein writes that the funeral was both sad and hilarious:

And the very best line was the last one uttered by the last of Doug’s ten–count ‘em–eulogists, his best friend, Pat Conroy: “The first person to cry, when he heard about Doug’s death, was God.”

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