Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, New Age Islam|02 December 2016
Eminent Indian journalist Dileep Padgaonkar passed away in Pune on 26 November 2016, at the age of 72. He was born in Pune where he did his schooling and graduation. After receiving his doctorate in humanities from Paris, he joined The Times of India, of which he later became the chief editor.
I was among the admirers of Dileep Padgaonkar whom I had occasion to hear many times during various conferences. There was once a seminar organized in New Delhi with a very unique topic of discussion. The question to be deliberated upon was when a person is born in a society he is bound to live with different loyalties, so how can one develop an integrated personality in the midst of such diversity? The speakers had varied opinions, but Dileep Padgaonkar provided the most clarity on the subject. He observed that having diverse loyalties was very natural, a phenomenon that does not inhibit the development of one’s personality. He supported this statement by quoting the words of the American poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”These words mean ‘I am large enough to contain all kinds of contradictions.’
I first understood this idea from Dileep Padgaonkar. I gave a lot of thought to this concept and later also developed it further. I realized that this concept was very important for the development of a wider personality.
Diversity is a part of life. If one is not biased and objectively analyzes things, then diversity would serve as a means for advancing one’s thinking process. One would consider different ideas, form opinions and thereby add to one’s knowledge and experience. This may give boost to one’s creativity, increase intellectual development and foster positive thinking.
This idea also has an ethical aspect. When a person learns to live in the midst of diversity with a normal state of mind, it would inculcate in him the virtue of tolerance, instil the spirit of mutual respect and make one realize the importance of coexistence. In this sense living in diversity is good for a person as it is helpful in the fuller development of one’s personality.
A colleague of Dileep Padgaonkar has written that he was very disturbed by the demolition of the Babri Masjid. In 1993 a meeting was held in the house of Madhu Mehta, a well-known social activist of Bombay. I was the sole speaker at the meeting in which I made the point that people generally take the demolition of the Babri Masjid in a negative sense, however, I take it in a positive way. This was because the demolition put an end permanently to the Mandir-Masjid politics in India. An extreme event of this kind takes place only once in history, for example, the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the first and last instance of the use of these deadly weapons: the horrific incident served as a deterrent for their future use. The same principle could be applied to the demolition of the Babri Masjid—it would serve as a deterrent to the politics surrounding places of worship in India. This was the place when I first interacted with Dileep Padgaonkar and he appreciated my view on the subject.
His colleagues have unanimously observed that he was a strict follower of principle. In this respect he has left behind an example for those who come after him. By profession Dileep Padgaonkar was a journalist, but he was a different kind of journalist. We can say that he was a man with a difference, and a writer has very appropriately said that difference is beautiful.