At a memorial meeting for Rajkishore held in the Press Club of India, Delhi, on 16 June, the refrain was that the journalist and author was no more but his legacy would always be with us. Indicative of that rich legacy was an audience in which the media and the literary world were well represented. Most of the speakers also noted Rajkishore’s journey from being Lohiate to being an Ambedkarite.
Rajkishore’s last major writerly accomplishment before he passed away on 4 June was a Hindi translation of Dr Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Unfortunately, he passed away before the book could see the light of day. Rajkishore’s wife Vimla and consulting editor of the Rajasthan Patrika group, Om Thanvi, released Jati Ka Vinash, as the book is titled, during the meeting. Forward Press has published the book.
“I want to remember him for his clean prose,” said poet and critic Ashok Vajpeyi. “He valued freedom and justice. He had a strong ideology. His focus on feminism and Dalit liberation was unrivalled in the Hindi and even in the English media. Perhaps, he is the last journalist to bridge the gap between journalism and literature.”
Journalist and author Urmilesh recalled: “I first met him while we were working with Navbharat Times. He was in Delhi and I was with a different edition. I was junior to him but he treated me as an equal. That showed his humility. I inspired by Rajkishore’s ‘imandari’ [honesty], ‘samajhdari’ [understanding], and ‘tarafdari’ [loyalty] towards oppressed section of society in his writings. But he didn’t get the recognition he deserved in his lifetime. Hindi journalism has not only been Hindu journalism but also savarna journalism, but he never compromised.”
Journalist Priyadarshan recalled how Rajkishore wrote in a very simple yet strong language. “Although he followed a strong ideology he was never vindictive in his writing. His email ID was ‘truthonly’ and he practised it.”
Dr Siddharth talked about his long association with Rajkishore. “He was my friend and teacher. He never talked about his personal life. The discussions revolved around his concerns for society. He always worried about the development of Indian society. He was most concerned about freeing society from casteism and patriarchy.”
Yogendra Yadav, sociologist and leader of the Swaraj Party, said he would remember Rajkishore as a profoundly democratic person. “I learnt from Rajkishore ji how to preserve a friendship despite obvious differences,” he said.
Dr Gopeswar Singh, Savita Pathak, Arun Tripathy and Anamika also shared their memories of their association with the veteran journalist. Sanjiv Sidhik read some of Rajkishore’s poetry. Om Thanvi moderated the programme.
At the end, Rajkishore’s wife Vimla thanked everyone and said the support they had given her would help her live on.
Copy-edited by Anil Varghese
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