Obituary: Remembering a pioneer in journalism S Nihal Singh

In August 2017, S Nihal Singh had promised to pay another visit to Chandigarh Press Club; it is not to be; A recall of the two days in the company of a consummate editor who prided himself in his ability to say NO

india Updated: Apr 17, 2018 13:15 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
S Nihal Singh,Chandigarh Press Club,City Beautiful
S Nihal Singh.

I met renowned journalist and columnist S Nihal Singh, 88, who died of kidney-related ailments in New Delhi, on Monday, in person for the first time in August last year. At that meeting, perhaps sensing that he was near the end of this earthly journey, he had told me, “Everybody has to go one day, but my only wish is that whenever my time comes, I shouldn’t bother anybody and hope I go swiftly.”

He had promised to make another visit in 2018, but, it is not to be.

During this visit, I was privileged to be with him most of the time during his two-day stay in Chandigarh.

So, one can say that the City Beautiful saw the last healthy, living energetic bite of the ‘International Editor of the Year’ awardee through my eyes.

The award had been bestowed in him in New York for his role in opposing former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s emergency.

Addressed questions with boundless energy

He was in Chandigarh to talk about the role of media in the 70 years of independence India at the invitation of the Chandigarh Press Club. Even at 88, he was full of spark and had endless energy to inspire generations of the journalists. The octogenarian preferred not to be dependent on anybody and managed to be on his own even while traveling. After spending nearly four hours at the club, interacting with the journalists of all age and even during the lunch he was constantly volleyed with the questions. He made a special effort that none of the question remained unanswered.

I thought he must be tired, so offered him to drop at UT Guest House, so could have a nap. But he insisted on visiting the Panjab University’s mass communication department ‘School of Communication Studies’, where he had earlier donated his entire collection of books. The faculty was surprised to see him and the broadcast class of the freshers was going on. The students got the life time opportunity to capture the legendary journalists in their inaugural session with video camera.

Nihal Singh gave time to each student and obliged them with patiently giving answers to similar questions again and again. He used to take pride that in his almost seven-decade long career, he had never taken a favour from the government and his advice to the youngsters was that if they want to rise in the profession than they should learn to say ‘NO’.

Sent a Thank You note

A gracious and down-to-earth person, on the next day of his return he wrote an email, thanking everyone in the Press Club for what all we could do during his stay in Chandigarh.

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 23:09 IST