A journalist par excellence
Kuldip Nayar was a noted journalist who rose to prominence through his syndicated articles published in a large number of newspapers in the country throughout the past decades. He belonged to the tribe of journalists who revelled in scoops and political gossips because of their intensive contacts in the corridors of power. In the old times when the advantage of fast-paced communication and Internet was not available, Kuldip Nayar's articles were not only informative but also insightful. Over the years, Nayar built a reputation for being in the know of the things no matter the subject. From nuclear ambitions of India and Pakistan to the state of the economy, his range of interest was eclectic. In his entire journalistic career spanning more than half a century, he was at the forefront articulating difficult national and international issues to his readers. His lifelong commitment to his profession makes him an extraordinary journalist and a key figure.
Nayar was also a writer and a human rights activist who not only wrote a number of highly recommended books but also participated in innumerable delegations demanding the protection of human rights. Nayar's journalistic persona included his academic orientation, his commitment to civil and democratic rights of the citizens even in difficult times such as the Emergency and being fair and frank. Though he began his career with an Urdu newspaper and rose to become the Editor of The Statesman and The Indian Express in Delhi, Nayar was more known for his op-ed page articles, which were routinely published by all major newspapers in the past five decades. Nayar was born in Sialkot in Pakistan and had migrated to India after Partition. He was one of those who had seen violence and bloodshed first hand. His life was equally affected by the gory human tragedy that followed the Partition. That experience shaped his worldview -- his concerns and interests. And apart from India, his keen interests were developments in Pakistan. His newspaper writings reflected the themes that dominated the discourse in the past decades -- and they are typical of a fledgeling democracy, the third world and the difficult socio-economic reality. Essentially, he was a columnist who used to dig out information through his sources and provide in-depth analysis. In the process, he analysed the decisions of the government, the political games being played out and the ground situation of a country as diverse as India. Unlike now when the Internet has made all kinds of information available at a mere click of the mouse, Nayar's time was different. A journalist's career then involved extensive travelling and meeting the people to have a first-hand feel of the ground situation and the reality. The research was both reading documents and field visits to ascertain facts. Nayar excelled in his profession because despite being close to power politics, he chose to spend enough time collecting facts and doing the research independently. Nayar was known to be fair and frank in the mould of a journalist who was committed to the ethics of the profession. His fearless opposition to the Emergency and the criticism of Indira Gandhi government during the time is particularly remembered as an instance when he did not hesitate to speak his mind. He was arrested for his vocal protest during the time. "Kuldip Nayar was an intellectual giant of our times. Frank and fearless in his views, his work spanned across many decades. His strong stand against the Emergency, public service, and his commitment to a better India, will always be remembered. Saddened by his demise. My condolences," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet. He transcended from being a journalist who kept a tab on everything that the government was doing to a diplomat and a Parliamentarian. He was India's High Commissioner in the UK and was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha in the 1990s. Paying his tribute to Nayar, President Ram Nath Kovind said on tweeter: "Sad to hear of the passing of Kuldip Nayar, veteran editor and writer, diplomat and Parliamentarian, and a determined champion of democracy during the Emergency. His readers will miss him. Condolences to his family and associates." A genuine scoop-man and Indo-Pak peace visionary, he will be missed by journalists and peace activists.