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Vinod Mehta: Our Tribute
fnbworld Bureau/Ramawatar Sharma
It is indeed a very sad moment in journalism with the passing away of versatile editor Vinod Mehta. It was in September 1995 that I became a paid subscriber of the magazine to be launched during October of the same year. Its name had an attraction for me. Since then, it is full two decades now I have been a regular subscriber of that magazine, very appropriately called "Outlook". And one person that kept my interest going on in "Outlook" was its Editor Vinod Mehta. I've never met Vinod Mehta but I know him very well- he wrote freely about himself in the last page of "Outlook" called Diary. And he was honest when writing about himself. Though labeled pro-Communist by many, he appeared to be on side of logic, not any dogma or "ism". But he was, definitely, not on right of the scale as far as his personal opinions were concerned but he never appeared to block the rightists and their opinions in the magazine he edited.
He stood the ground as an editor for quite a few publications that he strived to establish – be it Debonair magazine or The Pioneer newspaper. All of whom he had the courage to print opinions that were against the tide of time and also against the system and its handlers. But that did not mean he was anti-establishment; he dared to give space to voices when many other editors were meek enough not to publish the research based opinions against the systems of the government or the organizations. He published all the genuine stories, both for the system or those opposing it. He was a man of humour and named his pet dog as “Editor” and whenever he wrote in "Diary", it always ended with a fond write up about the activities of “Editor”.
Vinod Mehta wasn't very happy lately as a section of right-wing hardliners started debasing him repeatedly. He wasn't an alcoholic but enjoyed his scotch occasionally. It is sad that a fake Twitter account @drunkvinodmehta was started where he was unnecessarily abused for some fake provocative write up in his name, of course, Vinod denied it.
His autobiography "Lakhnow Boy" opens many qualities of the man. He had a very humble beginning and mediocre educational qualifications but was adventurous by nature. A rise from a factory hand in Britain to one of the most powerful editors in India is not a small achievement. And to stay there for decades is indicative of his intellectual depth, his detractors may call it "pseudo- intellectual" one.
He may not be missed in present times but to me, as a regular reader, he was an editor of excellent qualities and a man worth keeping company with. He penned so much of truth on the last page of "Outlook" that his invisible shadow would loom large for years over the readers who hold editor Vinod Mehta in reverence for a long time.