In remembrance of Motilal Vora, who loved classical music and Hindi writing

He never quite recovered from the shock of losing his longtime friend Ahmed Patel. And at AJL and National Herald, which he helmed and helped revive, he will be missed for a long time

In remembrance of Motilal Vora, who loved classical music and Hindi writing

Mrinal Pande

Death they say is a tragic and inevitable stage. But when it snatches away a kind and gentle mentor, someone you’ve known and relied upon for long, as we at the National Herald group knew Motilal Vora ji, you suddenly feel rudderless and numb. In the passing on of veteran Congressman Shri Motilal Vora ji, who had also been the Chairperson and Managing Director of Associated Journals Ltd since 2002, we at the National Herald are still processing the blow.

Vora ji was among the last few Indian politicians who ardently followed Hindi literature and Hindi journalism. He also avidly followed classical music. And he actually cared for not just the arts but the creators of art. With an almost childlike curiosity he’d quiz us whenever we met him singly or as a group, what was new in Hindi literature and journalism.

Lately his long-time friend and colleague Ahmed Patel’s death had been a big blow to him from which he found it hard to recover. He wrote a touching obituary on his friend, saying again and again, how could you leave me alone, you were younger than me!

While he was Governor of Uttar Pradesh in 1996, Vora ji was immensely concerned about my mother’s failing health as she lay at the PGI in Lucknow haemorhaging from a serious liver ailment. He arranged for her to be air lifted to Delhi for treatment at the AIIMS, a move that saved her life. Later after she came around, she asked me if I had gone and thanked Vora ji. When told I hadn’t had the time, she commanded that I go and do that NOW! As I mumbled my thanks Vora ji smiled and said something that I still remember.

“To me she is one of our rarest and senior most Hindi writers, whose life had to be saved. I just did my duty and I am glad she is recovering.” That was Vora ji. Do a good deed because you must, not because it’s politically expedient or provides a photo op. Neki ker Dariya mein daal. Do a good deed and immediately immerse the memory or forget it, as they say in Hindustani.

For some unfathomable reason the qualities we cherish in our artists, we condemn in politicians. In the muscular politics that the last six years have spawned and perfected, a multiple sensibility and a flair for writing about the philosophical complexities of a nation’s layered history, like the one Nehru had, signals weakness, feminity and a love for western learning. Vora ji’s generation that grew up around mentors like him or Acharya Narendra Dev and Kripalani ji had no such misgivings.

Secular to the core, he remained a true liberal, loved the arts and good Hindi writing. At the same time, he was one of the most trustworthy party loyalists within the Congress, a trouble shooter rooted in the Congress ethos who could examine and set aright the minutest flaws in active politicking. Despite all the blows rained upon it, it was Vora ji’s oblique way of protecting Nehru Gandhi’s legacy, that managed to save the National Herald and two sister language papers Navjivan and Qaumi Awaaz from oblivion.

Sh Motilal Vora ji will be greatly missed by all of us at the Associated Journals for his benign presence as an avuncular family elder among us, one who always understood and helped us out at every crucial juncture, with a smile that was always reassuring.

(The author is the Group Editorial Advisor of the National Herald Group of publications)

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