RIP, Darryl D’Monte

19 Mar,2019

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The death of Darryl D’Monte on March 16, 2019 is a massive loss to Indian journalism in general and in particular, that very Bombay form of Indian journalism, distinct to that practised in Delhi or other parts of India. Darryl was only 74 but had been fighting cancer over the last few years.

This is from the Mumbai Press Club’s obituary:

“Darryl served long stints as Resident Editor at both the Times of India and Indian Express, at Mumbai, and was responsible for mentoring and guiding scores of young journalists during and after the dark days of the Emergency.

Little known to many, he was a human rights fighter too, and was one of the founders of the Association of Democratic Rights (APDR) in the mid-1970s. He was a tireless fighter for the environment too, and was the founder chairman of the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India. Though not in the best of health he continued to raise various environment issues such as the coastal road in Mumbai and was one of the founders of the ‘Celebrate Bandra’ festival. “

Former colleague Kalpana Sharma writes in The Indian Express:

“Although Darryl worked for much of his life in mainstream media, he never gave up his convictions on environment, human rights, civic and urban issues and on the rights of the most marginalised. Indeed, being a “committed” journalist was a label Darryl wore unapologetically. Through his reporting, he established that even if we, as journalists, have strong convictions, we can report with rigour and professionalism. His environmental reports stood out for the absence of polemics and for the thorough research that they contained. This kind of reporting set a gold standard for generations of journalists that have followed in his footsteps.”

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/goodbye-darryl-5632792/

Anikendra (Badshah) Sen writes a lively, anecdote-filled tribute to Darryl in The Wire:
https://thewire.in/media/darryl-dmonte-times-of-india-obituary

Friends and colleagues pay tributes in The Hindu:

https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/darryl-dmonte-senior-journalist-and-environmental-crusader-dies-aged-76/article26560732.ece

This is from Scroll.in

https://scroll.in/latest/916884/veteran-journalist-darryl-dmonte-dies-at-75-in-mumbai

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It is to my regret that I never worked for Darryl D’Monte but I did have the privilege of interacting with him when he was a columnist for various papers I was with. By this time, he was a strong environmental activist and a sharp critic of the destruction of the ecology in Bombay/Mumbai and the world around us. To many today, he will have been known more as an environmentalist than as an editor and journalist.

As an editor, he left his mark as one who spoke for often unpopular issues, who took The Times of India (of which he was resident editor, perhaps the last great one) to a newspaper that was on the ball when it came to reporting and coverage, not just the Old Lady of Boribunder. He quit, it is said, as interference from management became too much to bear. This was part of a whole churn within the Times of India, and this is not the place for that.

Why do I call him a particularly “Bombay” journalist? First, because he did not have that desire to mix with the “powerful” to give him credence as a journalist. Secondly, he was part of the movement which championed local issues and unpopular issues, like the environment. Bombay journalism was never all about politics. It may have often been about the city in an insular manner, but out of that tradition much of local coverage across the rest of India has benefitted. Conservation was also part of the citizenry, for all that the city was mocked for its apathy. Third, he was a fine and strong writer.

There are many clichés one could use and many tributes to be paid. The links I have shared do all of that much better than I could.

This I can say: with the passing of Darryl D’Monte, Indian journalism is bereft.

 

 

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