Zafar Agha on our ‘always laughing’ Editor-in-Chief Neelabh
Neelabh Mishra was a great journalist and his absence will be felt all the more in this profession because now, you don’t find his kind of editors, says Zafar Agha
It’s unbelievable to think that Neelabh is no more. The man who along with Piyush Jain (CEO, National Herald group), rebuilt and relaunched Jawaharlal Nehru’s National Herald group of papers, would leave us so soon. This idea is not settling so far. We knew it is going to happen. We knew for last few days that it’s certain, yet it is unbelievable and shocking.
I met Neelabh very late. In fact, I met him here for the first time. But he was a gem of a person, a great journalist, as Bhasha Singh wrote. He made so many journalists, taught them, mentored them. That he would leave us is really unbelievable for me, I don’t have words. Neelabh was a great journalist and his absence will be felt all the more in this profession because now, his kind of editors you don’t find. What has happened over the years with journalism is that journalism has transformed from a profession of justice to just any other profession. People come here to make name, to make money. That old class of editors are gone, and they have left us, Neelabh is one of them. And I think one of the last ones; Who worked, smiled, mentored people in the office and quietly left. He was always smiling, always in a cheerful mood.
“That old class of editors are gone, and they have left us, Neelabh is one of them. And I think one of the last ones”
Whatever pain he must have been undergoing in the last few months, what an amazing man that he never crumbled, never complained. Few hours before the morning he left for Chennai [earlier this month], I met him, and he was talking to me about a book. He was quite unwell at the time but still, he was talking about a book. In fact, he gave me the book and said, Zafar Sahab, ye bahut achhi kitab aayi hai, aap ise lete jaiye (A very good book has come, you take it). Imagine, just a few hours before he left for Chennai.
He was not just a journalist, as we all know. I’m also a political journalist. We used to talk politics for some time when we used to sit together, but I enjoyed talking to him more on literature, on arts, on culture. I used to tell him, you are more a man of art and culture than journalism. His love for books, his passion for art and culture and essentially, he was such a civilised and gentle man, that drew him to art and culture.
The only tribute we can pay to Neelabh is that the house he rebuilt, the National Herald group of papers, we must dedicate ourselves to make it a true, liberal platform that anybody could look up to. With these words, I pay my tributes to Neelabh Mishra, who will always be with us.
Zafar Agha is Acting Editor-in-Chief, National Herald, Navjivan and Qaumi Awaz