In memoriam: A tribute to those we lost – The Tribune India

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Updated At: Dec 25, 2022 09:17 AM (IST)
Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma

Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma
January 13, 1938 — May 10, 2022
A young Shiv Kumar Sharma resisted the 100-string instrument his father brought to him one day. But Uma Dutt Sharma, who hailed from a family of priests and was a classical musician himself, said santoor would make him go down in history. And it did. Shiv became the first musician to play Hindustani classical music on the essentially folk instrument. Born in Jammu, he dedicated his life to santoor and took it to the world stage, making a place for it among instruments like the sitar and sarod. He was one half of the composer duo Shiv-Hari, the latter being flautist Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia. Together, they gave music to films like ‘Silsila’, ‘Lamhe’, ‘Chandni’ and ‘Darr’. For his contribution to the field of music, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986, followed by the Padma Shri in 1991, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2001.
Pt Birju Maharaj
February 4, 1938 — January 17, 2022

Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj, a kathak doyen of the Kalka-Bindadin gharana of Lucknow, enthused tradition and innovation in equal measure in his momentous journey. Kathak came to him as much as a genetic inheritance as his lifelong tapasya. A livewire on stage, he lent new expressions to this evocative dance form, sans gimmickry. From full-length mythological and historical dance-dramas such as ‘Katha Raghunath Ki’, ‘Krishnayan’, ‘Darbar-e-Salaami’ and ‘Shaahi Mehfil’, he naturally moved to abstract compositions such as ‘Naad Gunjan’, ‘Ghunghru Sangeet’ and ‘Laya Parikrama’. He defied gender binaries, enrapturing one and all as he became Radha on stage with effortless ease. Trained under three great masters — father Acchan Maharaj and uncles Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj — Pt Birju Maharaj passed on his skills to many disciples.
Lata Mangeshkar
September 28, 1929 — February 6, 2022

Queen of Melody, Nightingale of India, Voice of Millennium, Sakshaat Saraswati… many epithets defined Lata Mangeshkar. Here was a legendary voice that every Indian could recognise from her very first alaap. Few singers have evoked the kind of admiration and success that she did. Singer of thousands of songs in over 30 languages, anecdotes concerning her life and career have become as legendary as the singer herself. It is said that Pt Jawaharlal Nehru’s eyes turned moist when she rendered ‘Ae Mere Watan Ke Logo’. She began working in the 1940s, her last song being ‘Saugandh Mujhe Is Mitti Ki’, which was released as a tribute to the nation in 2019. She received the Bharat Ratna in 2001. Forever youthful and ageless, she went on to lend her voice to actors half her age. No wonder, her voice remains her pehchaan.
Ela Bhatt
September 7, 1933 — November 2, 2022

The epitaph ‘gentle revolutionary’ made its way to every obituary penned at the demise of Ela Bhatt. Gentle she was, as she transformed the lives of over 20 lakh women from the informal sector across 18 states through her trade union, SEWA (Self-Employed Women’s Association), which she founded in 1972. A lawyer by training, she began working with the Textile Labourers Association in Ahmedabad, but soon realised that the wives of these labourers were the most wretched of the lot — exploited for wages in the unorganised sector, all the while slogging at home as well. With microfinance at the centre of Sewa, women working in the garment industry, street vendors, rag-pickers, cart-pullers, etc, got visibility. SEWA Bank, founded in 1974, offered small loans to poor women workers, largely bypassed by formal banking institutions.
Rahul Bajaj
June 10, 1938 — February 12, 2022

With the demise of chairman emeritus of Bajaj Group in February this year, Indian industry lost a fearless voice. Under him, the group saw a remarkable growth trajectory, turning it into one of India’s largest conglomerates. Among the most iconic of the 40 companies has been Bajaj Autos, which started production of India’s first homegrown two-wheelers, Chetak and Super, after Piaggio refused to renew its licence in India. The iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’ jingle filled every middle class Indian with pride. A Rajya Sabha
MP from 2006-10, he was known for speaking his mind, be it on issues like lynching, demonetisation, economic policies of the government of the day, or questioning Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur’s comments praising Nathuram Godse. An alumnus of the Harvard Business School, the pioneering visionary was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001.
Bhupinder Singh
February 6, 1940 — July 18, 2022

In his five-decade-long career, Bhupinder Singh worked with the biggest names of the music industry, from Mohd Rafi, RD Burman, Madan Mohan, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, Gulzar to Bappi Lahiri, among others. The Amritsar-born singer is credited with introducing Spanish guitar, drums and bass to the ghazal style. ‘Dil Dhoondta Hai’, ‘Do Deewane Shehar Mein’, ‘Kisi Nazar Ko Tera Intezaar’ and ‘Ek Akela Is Shehar Mein’ will keep nudging at the heartstrings of music lovers for long. As a guitarist, he will be remembered for renditions in ‘Dum Maro Dum’, ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’ and ‘Mehbooba O Mehbooba’. Bhupinder began his career with AIR, Delhi, as a singer and musician. Spotted by Madan Mohan, he was called to Mumbai. Thus began his career with the song ‘Hoke Majboor’ from ‘Haqeeqat’. In the 1980s, he ventured into live performances with his wife, singer Mitali.
Mulayam Singh Yadav
November 22, 1939 — October 10, 2022

Ten-time MLA, seven-time MP and three-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh Yadav became one of the most important figures of the non-Congress, non-BJP spectrum of the country, contributing to the empowerment of the backward castes in India’s most populous state. Born at Saifai village in Etawah, Yadav was a wrestler by training and a teacher by profession before he joined politics, first as part of Janata Dal and then floating the Samajwadi Party. A socialist inspired by the Lohia brand of politics, he did not shy away from joining hands with opponents, including the BSP and BJP, in time of need. As Defence Minister in the Deve Gowda government, his most important contribution was inking the Sukhoi deal with Russia, besides deciding to bring back the mortal remains of soldiers rather than just the uniform. Fondly known as ‘Netaji’, he slowly slipped into the shadows by handing over the reins of his party to son Akhilesh Yadav.
Sukh Ram
July 27, 1927 — May 11, 2022

Five-time Vidhan Sabha and three-time Lok Sabha member, Pandit Sukh Ram was one of Himachal Pradesh’s tallest political leaders. Credited with spearheading India’s telecom revolution as a minister in the Narasimha Rao-led government, he fell from grace when the CBI recovered cash stashed in bed linen and suitcases from his houses in Delhi and Himachal in 1996. However, in his home state, he was never discredited, and was always revered as the man who brought telephones to every single household. He was convicted of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income only in 2011. His party threw him out following the CBI raids and he avenged it by launching his own party, winning five seats and keeping the Congress out of power in 1998. He returned to the Congress a few years later, joined the BJP in 2017, and went back to the Congress in 2019 once again.
Bappi Lahiri
November 27, 1952 — February 15, 2022

He was three when he started playing the tabla — not an impossible deed when your parents are classical musicians. And yet, the world knows Bappi Lahiri as Bollywood’s disco king. His fashion and music were both inspired by the West — the former by Elvis Presley and the latter by the 1970s’ disco fever, creating a star out of ‘Mrigya’ boy Mithun Chakraborty.
Starting his career at 19, the versatility of his compositions was mind-boggling. Besides ‘Disco Dancer’ and ‘Jimmy, Jimmy’, there were more unforgettable numbers, including ‘Chalte, Chalte’ and ‘Kisi Nazar Ko Tera’. In his 50-year stint, Bappi Da created over 9,000 songs not just for Hindi but also Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada and Gujarati films. His music wasn’t confined to India, he had fans in Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East and even erstwhile Soviet Union.
Peter Brook
March 21, 1925 — July 2, 2022

The year was 1985, the venue a stone quarry at Avignon in southeastern France, the time dusk and the play ‘Le Mahabharata’. The Indian epic had become a muse for British-born theatre director Peter Brook. The French play, a product of Brook’s hard work of eight years, went on for 11 hours until dawn, including two hours of interval. It featured actors from across the world, and India’s own classical dancer-actress Mallika Sarabhai. A review in The Guardian called the play “the masterwork of Brook’s later period”; another termed it “a masterpiece”. For the next four years, Brook travelled the world with the play; he had translated it into English in 1987. In the coming years, it took on the shape of a film and a mini-series. Over the years, India found a permanent place on Brook’s itinerary. He was awarded the Padma Shri last year.
August 23, 1968 — May 31, 2022

The untimely death of singer Krishnakumar Kunnath, popularly known as KK, shook music lovers. He was just 53. He had recorded more than 3,500 jingles before taking his singing talent seriously. It was upon his wife’s suggestion that he moved to Mumbai and went on to lend his voice to more than 500 songs. While KK’s music was immensely popular, especially his love songs, the singer himself led a private life away from the public eye. Songs like ‘Tadap Tadap’ and ‘Aankhon Mein Teri’ epitomise his range and versatility. He sang in many languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Bengali, Assamese and Gujarati. In Srijit Mukherji’s ‘Sherdil’, KK reunited with Gulzar, with whom he had worked for his maiden Bollywood song, ‘Chod Aaye Hum’, from the film ‘Maachis’. The ‘Sherdil’ song turned out to be his last recorded number.
July 9, 1944 — November 18, 2022

She could have been India’s answer to Oprah Winfrey, only veteran actress Tabassum started her chat show 14 years before Winfrey did. For 21 years (1972-1993), she hosted Indian TV’s earliest talk show, ‘Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan’, where Bollywood stars vied to be wooed. Born Kiran Bala Sachdev, baby Tabassum started working at three and acted in many iconic movies — ‘Nargis’, ‘Baiju Bawra’ , ‘Talash’, ‘Heer Raanjha’ and ‘Mughal-e-Azam’. In a career spanning 75 years, she wore many hats — actor, director, magazine editor, talk show host, and even a YouTuber. Tabassum launched her YouTube channel ‘Tabassum Talkies’ in 2015. Karan Johar calls this lady with a smiling voice his inspiration for his ‘Koffee with Karan’ though Tabassum never talked about her guests’ private life, unlike Johar. Her talaffuz and persona were truly Tabassum.
Arun Bali
December 23, 1942 — October 7, 2022

From soap operas to critically acclaimed films, actor-producer Arun Bali’s 30-year career featured a vast repertoire of roles, and yet the audiences remember him for his gentle ‘grandfatherly’ roles. Born in Jalandhar, he made his TV debut in 1989 in Lekh Tandon’s ‘Doosra Kewal’, where he played the role of Shah Rukh Khan’s uncle. More daily soaps followed, including ‘Swabhimaan’ and ‘Kumkum’. Bali will be remembered for his strong character roles in blockbusters, including ‘Hey Ram’, ‘Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman’, ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Punjab ’84’ and ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’. The affable ‘Sardarji’ from films such as ‘PK’ will always be remembered. His fellow actors found him generous and warm-hearted, while fans said he was unassuming and gracious. The actor’s last film, ‘Goodbye’, proved to be prophetic, as the movie was released on the day he breathed his last.
Raju Srivastava
December 25, 1963 — September 21, 2022

His father Balai Kaka was a poet but he only wanted to do mimicry. To fulfil his dream, Kanpur-born Satya Prakash Srivastava aka Raju Srivastava became a comedian in films as India had no tradition of stand-up comedy then. Starting with ‘Tezaab’, Raju performed small roles in many movies, including ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’ and ‘Baazigar’, before finally finding his calling. In 2005, Raju participated in the TV show ‘The Great Indian Laughter Challenge’. From then on, ‘Gajodhar Bhaiya’ ruled the comedy scene with rustic humour. More shows and accolades followed, establishing him as ‘The King of Comedy’. He never forgot his roots and worked to promote cinema in his home state. Srivastava, who was the chairperson of the Film Development Council of Uttar Pradesh, joined the BJP in 2014, and was the brand ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
Sidhu Moosewala
June 11, 1993 — May 29, 2022

‘Last Ride’, Sidhu Moosewala’s last song, became a eulogy to the 28-year-old rapper. ‘Ni Ehda Uthuga Jawani Ch Janaza Mithiye’, he had sung, as if foreseeing his premature death. But not before he had earned millions of fans — Punjabis and non-Punjabis, in India, Pakistan and across the seven seas. His killing, which came a day after his security cover was cut by the Punjab government, shocked legions of fans as also others, including rapper Drake, who launched a T-shirt collection to commemorate Moosewala. Thousands attended his funeral at his village in Mansa. If his death evoked controversy — with gang rivalry being reported as the reason — controversy never left him when alive. Often in news for lyrics that extolled violence, he was booked in 2020 and was called out for hurting Sikh sentiments. In 2021, he unsuccessfully contested the Punjab Assembly elections on a Congress ticket.
BK Syngal
June 14, 1940 — July 9, 2022

Bijendra Kumar (BK) Syngal is widely regarded as the ‘Father of Internet and Data Services in India’. As Chairman and Managing Director of the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) from 1991 to 1998, this alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur helped India become the third country to have commercial Internet, much before China. India’s entry into the digital space on August 15, 1995, was marked by some technical glitches. It took him barely a few weeks to steer the country on its digital journey, making India a key global player. Known for bulldozing his way through bureaucratic barriers, his tenure at VSNL saw the inefficient public sector corporation grow from a $125 million company into a $1.65 billion communications giant by 1998, spawning case studies at Harvard. Following a controversial exit from VSNL (which later became Tata Communications Ltd, after it was acquired by Tata Group), he joined as chairman of Reliance Telecom.
JS Grewal
October 4, 1927 — August 11, 2022

To understand the present, it’s important to understand the past, Prof JS Grewal believed. Born in Lyallpur, he experienced Partition first-hand. Fascinated by the Hindu-Muslim relations, he began researching the social and cultural history of medieval India, marking the beginning of an illustrious career and pathbreaking research. Grewal published about 40 monographs, besides several other works, breaking fresh ground in Indian and Punjab history and Sikh studies. His works included ‘Guru Nanak in History’, ‘Master Tara Singh in Indian History: Colonialism, Nationalism, and Politics of Sikh Identity’ and ‘Sikhs of the Punjab’. He served as director of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and a National Fellow at the Indian Council of Historical Research. He also founded the department of history at GNDU, Amritsar, of which he was the Vice-Chancellor from 1981 to 1984.
Gopi Chand Narang
February 11, 1931 — June 15, 2022

Called the Renaissance Man of Urdu, Prof Gopi Chand Narang — scholar, linguist, literary critic and much more — lived and breathed Urdu. His unparalleled contribution to the language made both India and Pakistan celebrate him, conferring on him their highest honours. Narang was instrumental in introducing generations not only to the works of Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Firaq Gorakhpuri, but also to the basics of Urdu. In his 60-book oeuvre, there are at least 10 books for kids titled ‘Let’s Learn Urdu’ in English and Hindi. Prof Narang will be remembered for his seminal work on tracing the genesis of the Urdu ghazal, exploring its philosophical complexity to Upanishadic philosophy. Hindi writer Kamleshwar summed up his literary contribution quite succinctly when he said that every Indian language needs one Gopi Chand Narang.
Yoginder K Alagh
February 14, 1939 — December 6, 2022

The noted economist leaves behind a rich legacy in the world of policymaking. Born in Chakwal (now in Pakistan), Yoginder Kumar Alagh studied at the University of Rajasthan and received a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Besides being Vice Chancellor of JNU and professor emeritus at the Sardar Patel Institute of Economic and Social Research, Ahmedabad, he taught at several leading institutions, including IIM-Calcutta. From 1996-98, he served as the Union Minister of Power, Planning and Programme Implementation. As a member of the Planning Commission, he did pioneering work. A committee established under him constructed separate poverty lines for rural and urban areas based on nutritional requirements. Another recommended setting up of farmer producer companies. He also set up the econometrics cell of the Agricultural Prices Commission, which recommends the MSP for different crops.
Dominique Lapierre
July 30, 1931 — December 2, 2022

Dominique Lapierre first visited India while travelling across Asia on his honeymoon. He and his wife returned as humanitarians in 1982, marking the beginning of a life-long friendship with the country, especially Calcutta, which became the setting of his novel ‘City of Joy’, which revolves around a rickshaw-puller and a young priest. While Lapierre was accused of ‘exoticising’ India’s poverty for his western readers, his love for the people of the city was reflected in the fact that royalties from the book were directed to improve public health facilities in Calcutta’s slums, besides other humanitarian works. ‘City of Joy’ was adapted into a film in 1992. His other books on India include the classic ‘Freedom at Midnight’ and ‘Five Past Midnight in Bhopal: The Epic Story of the World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster’. Lapierre, who spoke Bengali fluently, was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2008.

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The Tribune, now published from Chandigarh, started publication on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising four eminent persons as trustees.
The Tribune, the largest selling English daily in North India, publishes news and views without any bias or prejudice of any kind. Restraint and moderation, rather than agitational language and partisanship, are the hallmarks of the paper. It is an independent newspaper in the real sense of the term.
The Tribune has two sister publications, Punjabi Tribune (in Punjabi) and Dainik Tribune (in Hindi).
Remembering Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia
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