Rich tributes paid to Girilal

NEW DELHI, July 25: The former editor of The Times of India, Mr Girilal Jain, who passed away a few days ago, was remembered with glowing tributes by those who knew him at a meeting organised here yesterday.

“I valued him as a person who was not taken in by the conventional wisdom of the day. He had his quirks, but what is a man without quirks?” said Mr S. Nihal Singh, former editor of the Statesman and the Indian Express.

He recalled that his association with Mr Jain began when he joined The Times of India as an unpaid apprentice sub-editor. Mr Nihal Singh said that one of the qualities he admired in him was “his independence of thinking”. He added, “the greatest thing about being a journalist is to be an independent thinker.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party president, Mr L.K. Advani said no attempt should be made to bind Mr Girilal Jain to any political party. Mr Advani said Mr Jain had the capacity of thinking in an unconventional and unorthodox manner, because he had the strength of conviction. The BJP leader noted that Mr Jain was endowed with a strong sense of history and his writings did not simply aim at provoking. Instead, his writings were the result of deep thought.

Also praising the late editor for the fearlessness of his writings and yet his willingness to listen to another person’s point of view was Mr Rajendra Singh, the RSS leader.

Mr Singh noted that Mr Jain used to write with great independence of thought and did not hesitate to criticise the Nehruvian model even though he was its supporter.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan said there were several lessons to be learnt from the life of Mr Girilal Jain. Beginning his studies in a village school in Sonepat, he went on to study at the Hindu college in Delhi. The Maulana pointed out that despite having done his initial schooling in a small place, Mr Girilal Jain went on to become a leading writer.

Moreover, the Maulana observed, even though one did not agree with the late editor’s views, they were compelling, since he always had “something new and forceful to offer.” The Maulana suggested that Mr Jain’s writings should be compiled in the form of a book, a suggestion agreed to by others at the meeting.

Congress leader, Mr Sitaram Kesari, said Mr Jain had a comprehensive view of issues. An intellectual, he had also spent time in prison during the country’s freedom struggle, he noted. Mr Kesari recalled how he used to discuss issues with Mr Jain before speaking at forums he was invited to. And when praised for his ideas, he was in dilemma for, he said. “How could I tell people that they were on loan?”

The former union minister, Mr Vasant Sathe, said that Mr Jain wielded a forceful pen, both as an editor and a columnist. Recalling his patriotism and honesty of conviction, Mr Sathe said he was a rationalist who respected the views of others.

Mr Dileep Padgaonkar, editor, The Times of India said he knew “few editors who cultivated paradox as much as Giri did.” His paradoxes were astonishing, odd and extremely interesting, said Padgaonkar. “We all have to live with our contradictions,” said Mr Padgaonkar. And quoting from the poet Walt Whitman added, “I am large enough to contain all contradictions.”

The Times of India, 26 July 1993

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