NEW DELHI: Veteran journalist and literary critic Sham Lal died in his sleep here on Friday morning. He was 94 and is survived by his wife Vimla, son Deepak Gupta, and daughters Rajni Mohiuddin and Neena Vyas, who is Associate Editor with The Hindu .
Mr. Sham Lal began his career with the Hindustan Times and, after 12 years with that paper, he moved on to the Times of India. He served as the Editor of the Times of India from 1967 to 1978.
He earned great journalistic reputation with his column, "Life and Letters." In this column, he discussed and dissected modern thinkers, poets, playwrights and novelists. In 2001, a collection of these columns was published under the title "A Hundred Encounters." He was known for his strong and independent views.
After his retirement, Mr. Sham Lal continued to write occasionally for The Telegraph and a journal, "Biblio: A Review of Books." Failing eyesight forced him to stop writing three years ago.
He was cremated at the Lodhi Road electric crematorium here in the presence of a large number of relatives, friends, academics, past and present editors of a number of publications and news channels.
The former Deputy Prime Minister, L.K. Advani, and the former External Affairs Minister, Natwar Singh, were present.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in a condolence message, remembered Mr. Sham Lal as a "great editor, a thoughtful writer and a voice of reason, liberal values and patriotism."
Describing him as a "media icon of my generation," Dr. Singh said: "Generations of his readers looked forward to reading his columns for his wit and wisdom and his erudition. I hope his inspiring example will continue to guide Indian journalism." The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, remembered Mr. Sham Lal as an intellectual giant who was passionate about all aspects of life, particularly art, films and books. "He was an institution in himself. His death has left a void difficult to fill and his contributions to Indian journalism will continue to educate and inspire generations of media persons."
Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said Mr. Sham Lal was a thorough professional who would never compromise on the quality of his `report' and was highly respected for his upright writing.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad extended his condolences to the bereaved family.