In the demise of Kuldip Nayar, India lost not just a journalist of international repute, but also a frontline fighter for human rights and an author of high eminence. Indeed it was human rights and values that constituted the edifice of all his writings, be it journalistic write-ups or books, besides, of course, his relentless fight against all forms of violation of legal, constitutional and democratic norms.
That he was a voice, and that too a roaring one, at the national as well as at the international level, against any kind of injustice always found prominent reflection in his works. It is no wonder that condolences poured in like flood at levels – global, national and local – in the wake of the passing away of the veteran journalist.
As in other parts of the country as well as abroad, in Assam too solemn functions were organized to pay tribute to the giant of a journalist. What is most significant is the fact that such tribute paying functions were held not only in the capital city of Guwahati, but also at the district and sub-divisional levels. That clearly mirrors the very high esteem enjoyed by Kuldip Nayar not just among the journalistic fraternity but also among the general public at large.
Significantly, Kuldip Nayar had a very special relationship with Assam since the days of the historic Assam Movement against foreigners. As a matter of fact he proved to be great friend of the people of Assam by portraying the 6-year long agitation against foreigners in the State at the national and international fora through his journalistic writings.
While befitting tributes have been paid to the renowned journalist across the State as well as at the national and international level, what is most important for the journalistic fraternity and the general public as a whole is to first comprehend what Kuldip Nayar primarily stood for – what basically constituted his philosophy of life and how it found manifestation in his works.
Significantly his entire life and works bear testimony to his relentless fight against all forms of injustice at all levels, most importantly at the socio-political front. Being a hard boiled fighter in upholding democracy and democratic values in their purest forms sans any compromise, Nayar always fought tooth and nail against any form of derailment of democracy.
His stubborn opposition to imposition of Emergency in the country in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is well known. And on this count he had to pay a heavy price. He was sent to jail by the then Government at the Centre.
Kuldip Nayar represented journalistic ethics of the highest order. Known for his not just fair, but at times, even aggressive journalism, the veteran journalist has left behind a profound imprint of brave and honest journalism in the annals of media, both nationally as well as globally.
The path and trend set by Kuldip Nayar definitely does not promise anything like a luxury cruise ride, but a fight through a thorny and bumpy passage loaded with roadblocks devised by forces of vested interests. Throughout his blazing journalistic career, the veteran journalist fought tooth and nail to uphold honesty, integrity, human rights, democratic values and journalistic ethics in their purest forms. And this he did with awe inspiring guts. His pen was his ‘Brahmashtra’, which he used most judiciously and effectively in his fight against injustice – political, social or economic.
Whereas the press is deemed to be the fourth pillar of democracy and is supposed to be directly at the service of the public with a view to fighting for public good, it is this wellbeing of the general people and the nation as a whole, which mattered most to Kuldip Nayar. Indeed it was this trajectory that found prominent reflection in all his journalistic writings, books and speeches that he delivered at various fora within the country as well as abroad.
A master writer with the language enviably at his absolute command and armed with a reservoir of knowledge and information, reinforced with his honesty, guts and quest for justice and truth, it was only normal and natural that these high qualities and potentials put together could lead to the emergence of a giant of a journalist like Kuldip Nayar.
Now that the veteran journalist, author and advocate for human and democratic rights is no more in our midst, the tallest tribute that a journalist or a member of the public can pay to Kuldip Nayar is by imbibing the values that he stood for.
So far as the journalistic fraternity of today is concerned, it is highly unfortunate and shameful that a sizable section of them have lost their way in their lust for quick wealth, position, limelight and their unethical design of being close to the corridors of power.
However, another section of journalists continue to abide by the ethics of journalism despite all odds. It is for this group that Kuldip Nayar may always be a profound source of inspiration and a trend setter. It is through the path set by the veteran journalist that the upright journalist can fight his way through odds and hurdles towards his goal while highlighting the true tenets of journalism and upholding matters of public interest.
As of now, the credibility of journalism is fast on the wane. The need of the hour is honest and credible journalism for its very survival. And this can be achieved only by following the footprints left behind by Kuldip Nayar.
Talmizur Rahman is a Guwahati based senior journalist and commentator. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org