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Journalist Sham Lal passes away, PM calls him 'media icon'
- 2/23/2007             

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Sham Lal, one of India's most eminent journalists and acclaimed essayists, passed away here Friday at the age of 94. His death was mourned by generations of readers as well as by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who called him a "media icon of my generation".

The prime minister said Sham Lal was a "great editor and writer".

Sham Lal started his decades-long career in journalism with the Hindustan Times, one of India's most influential dailies, which he later edited, in 1934.

He moved to The Times of India and became its editor in 1967, a position he held for 11 years till 1978. His column Life and Letters - a critique of ideas and books - which he wrote for the paper attracted a large number of discerning readers and assured him a distinctive place in the intellectual life of the country.

The veteran journalist was cremated in the afternoon with his family, friends and admirers thronging to his funeral. BJP leader L.K. Advani, adviser to prime minister Sanjaya Baru and eminent journalists like Inder Malhotra, Dilip Padgaoankar, Vinod Mehta and Ajit Bhattacharjee were present.

Lal is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son. One of his daughters, Neena Vyas, is a journalist with The Hindu newspaper

The Times of India is bringing out a special edition to pay tribute to what it called a towering literary figure who with his words and views touched the lives of many. The daily has created a special section on its website inviting all those who have had any association or memory of the man to write on or about him.

After stepping down as editor of the Times of India, Lal wrote columns for various publications, including The Telegraph and Biblio, a literary periodical, which stood out for its fiercely independent stance and elegant prose in which it was written.

Lal was a passionate reader and lived literally surrounded by books in his study. His private library, which could be the envy of any bibliophile in the world, had books on just about every subject under the sun.

Five years ago, Lal published "A Hundred Encounters" - an anthology of his columns and essays, with some improvisations, that interrogates globalisation and modernity and describes his meetings with a galaxy of intellectuals and writers over several decades.


Indo-Asian News Service

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