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Mainstream, VOL LV No 12 New Delhi March 11, 2017

In Memory of Baljit Malik

Sunday 12 March 2017, by Bharat Dogra

TRIBUTE

Baljit Malik, who passed away in Delhi on February 18, will be remembered with mixed feelings by a large number of friends. He will be remembered for his involvement with and contribution to many different kinds of worthy causes. He will be remembered also as a writer who wrote well and with sensitivity and feeling. However, he used his undoubted talents as a writer very rarely. He rightly described himself as an off-and-on writer, more off than on!

This in a way was typical of the way in which Baljit utilised many of his undoubted talents. He was a typical representative of an exceptionally rich family and started with a strong, very well-intentioned desire to do good things in many different ways—education, literature, journalism, development initiatives, environment and heritage protection, communal harmony. All these are of course very worthy causes and whatever Baljit Malik could contribute in his own way was useful. But often he lacked the drive and concentration to take these initiatives to a stage where these could have the desired wider impact.

I was introduced to him by Sumanta Banerjee around the year 1980 or so when they were trying to set up some kind of alternative research and journalism project. I found Baljit to be always courteous and fair in all his interactions, one reason why his home became a hub for many such initiatives and groups. But such ventures would often fold up without realising their full potential. He had the resources for ensuring better results but somehow this could not be achieved and instead there was a lot of avoidable distress which apart from very adversely affecting him and those dear to him also came in the way of the success of his many-sided well-intentioned efforts.

His short term as the editor of the Forum Gazette brought out his talents as an editor, which could also be seen in the special supplements on development issues he helped to bring out for The Hindustan Times and Patriot. He once told me that he had taken a draft script for a film on the Kamagata Maru episode to Shashi Kapoor but his idea for a film on this subject could not be implemented. He had original ideas on various historical episodes and he sometimes wrote on these. At a different level he was keen to contribute to the protection of environment in and around the hill resort of Kasauli, a place with which his family enjoyed a very long and loving relationship.

A more stable and disciplined life for Baljit would have made it possible for him to make more enduring contributions, and also increased the capacity of his dear ones to do so.

Rest in peace, Baljit.

The author is a freelance journalist who has been involved with several social movements and initiatives.