Dileep Padgaonkar: An editor, a connoisseur

Dileep Padgaonkar had a wide range of interests. He was a mentor in the newsroom

Written by Subhash Chakravarti | Updated: November 26, 2016 9:42 am
Dileep Padgaonkar,Dileep Padgaonkar news, Dileep Padgaonkar death, Who was Dileep Padgaonkar, Dileep Padgaonkar career, Dileep Padgaonkar bio Dileep Padgaonkar (1944-2016)

I first met Dileep Padgaonkar in Paris when he was contributing pieces on the students’ protests in France and Europe to some papers, and was keen to write more. I was already at the Times of India, and recommended him to the then editor, Sham Lal. We got him to contribute a few pieces and he wrote for us on an ad-hoc basis. At that time, Europe was important due to the students’ protests, so Dileep’s contribution was significant. Later, Sham Lal asked him to join the Times of India in Bombay, where he worked on the opinion pages and tried his hand at edit writing. A few years later, he shifted to the Delhi office at his own request.

In 1988, he was appointed editor after Girilal Jain left. This is after Dilip had served at UNESCO and was looking to return to journalism. Dileep had a wide range of interests — from politics to the arts — and as editor encouraged people to write on varied subjects. In the newsroom, he was accommodating and always polite, and possessed a good sense of humour. He was easy to approach, and his door was always open. Dileep came to the Times of India as an outsider and grew into the job. He got along very well with his colleagues and that’s how he got people to contribute to the paper. In those years, I was diplomatic editor and chief of bureau in Delhi, and there was never an occasion when Dileep interfered with my work. He gave his reporters space.

While it’s a well-known fact that Dileep was fluent in French, he also knew Sanskrit really well. He was well-versed in the Vedas and he was very secular in his views. I remember when the Babri Masjid demolition happened, he was very upset. He said it was a scar on India’s secular fabric. He took a strong stand on it. While his sympathies lay with the Congress, he didn’t always agree with their policies. For instance, when he was appointed as one of the Jammu and Kashmir interlocutors by the Manmohan Singh government, he was disappointed. He felt let down by the fact that the committee’s suggestions were not acted upon.

Dileep and I have been friends for decades now and would discuss everything — from politics to books to people. Dileep was an excellent Hindustani classical singer, with a deep knowledge on the subject. I remember, when I would throw parties at my house on Parliament Street, he would occasionally sing. When he was in Pune, he would always attend early morning concerts too. We had common interests, such as reading. We often enjoyed the same books, and every time I would order a new book, I would place an order for one for him too from Bahrisons.

Dileep was considered a good cook of continental food, and although I didn’t know much about it, I did buy him a famous French cookbook at the Taipei airport once. He wrote extensively on European affairs but he also had an abiding love of cinema. (He wrote a book on Roberto Rossellini called Under Her Spell in 2008.) We talked a great deal about art, and would visit exhibitions together. In fact, we both have works by Jamini Roy and I helped Dileep pick his first two.

The last time I met him was two months ago at the India International Centre in the capital, where we used to meet often. He mentioned that he wasn’t keeping well but promised to come the next day. But that didn’t happen.

Over the years, Dileep and I were in the habit of speaking on the phone almost every day. The last time I spoke to him was a week ago when he said he was still unwell.

Subhash Chakravarti worked with the ‘Times of India’ for 37 years, where he was diplomatic editor and chief of bureau, Delhi (As told to Somya Lakhani)  

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

First Published on: November 26, 2016 12:04 am
  1. D
    Damaru Prasad
    Nov 26, 2016 at 6:19 am
    Just wondering why Indian media fetishes something that is foreign. Getting to fly to foreign capitals is glamorised. No big shots have reported from gangland in Bihar and UP. That is left to some nameless Hindi paper hacks. You are known by the company you keep or to put it differently you are known by who you work for. TOI, the world knows, still has English orientation. Anything desi is infra dig for people like him.
    Reply
    1. P
      Pawan
      Nov 26, 2016 at 4:07 am
      May lord Rama bestow peace to his soul and do not get upset on his atude towards His property and birth place.
      Reply
      1. E
        Eswar
        Nov 26, 2016 at 5:00 am
        I remember him supporting Musharraf against Vajpayee when the former visited India after becoming dictator. A permanent fixture in the parties at the stan emby where journalists (many more still alive) traded their motherland for a few foreign drinks and kababs. He will not be missed.
        Reply
        1. H
          Harsh
          Nov 26, 2016 at 4:48 am
          Good riddance.
          Reply
          1. J
            James
            Nov 26, 2016 at 4:41 am
            Connoisseur of what? Foreign liquor, ganja? He was a NDTV burka butt favorite. I remember him as a stone faced, expression less character who spoke gibberish in favor of corrupt congress. I believe he was one of the architect of the failed aman ki asha project while he was at TOI.
            Reply
            1. D
              dskygirl
              Nov 26, 2016 at 6:59 am
              Dont make more of him than what he was...just another ordinary guy.
              Reply
              1. K
                kumar
                Nov 26, 2016 at 4:46 am
                Great editor. Unfortunately he was a great connoisseur of foreign liquor which ultimately caused his untimely demise. He always appeared drunk in tv debates.
                Reply
                1. K
                  kumar
                  Nov 26, 2016 at 4:15 am
                  This fellow was a high flying foreign educated ba5t@rd who loved foreign liquor, foreign pr05 t* tutes, imported parae leaders (aka italian madam miss maino) and the hi progeny.
                  Reply
                  1. C
                    Chandru
                    Nov 26, 2016 at 3:07 am
                    He was the typical Indian western educated " who were made to think that anything Indian is inferior"lt;br/gt;They can accept Obama inviting and meeting the Pope, Muslims going to Hajlt;br/gt;But if Abt Hindu leader talks of Hinduism they become instantly Communal !lt;br/gt;They talk lowly of Hindus going to Temples but comfortable with leaders going to Mosques and Churches!lt;br/gt;Power of Brain washing !
                    Reply
                    1. P
                      Pippa
                      Nov 26, 2016 at 4:25 am
                      Today we have lost a lowly soul but a very fine connoisseur of everything foreign who hated everything indigenous to India including its religions, culture, history and heritage. Never-the-less I hope he will RIP. He will not be remembered and will not be missed.
                      Reply
                      1. P
                        Prakash
                        Nov 26, 2016 at 7:53 am
                        Poorly written article.
                        Reply
                        1. D
                          David
                          Nov 26, 2016 at 1:43 am
                          Dileep-asya atmam krupiya militwan. Sanskrit translation. May his soul receive mercy.
                          Reply
                          1. D
                            ds
                            Nov 26, 2016 at 7:44 am
                            barkha orphaned observing 13 days mourning
                            Reply
                            1. Load More Comments