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Faridi Saheb as I knew him
By Rizwan Ullah

Raisuddin FaridiMr. Raisuddin Faridi passed away on 22 January last in Delhi at the ripe age of 85 after a prolonged illness. Beginning in 1937 he devoted 60 years of his life to the Urdu journalism. I came to know him personally when he arrived in Calcutta in 1957 or so to join as editor Rozana Hind, an Urdu daily. He continued to hold that position, in addition to his various social and cultural engagements, for the next four decades concluding towards the end of the last century when he was given a warm send off by his friends admirers and acquaintances. I had left Calcutta towards the end of the year 1975 as Delhi had beckoned me but it was almost an annual ritual for me to go to Calcutta and see friends including Faridi sahab. This ritual of visiting Calcutta came to an end in 1992, the year of my retirement. Faridi Saheb, seen off by Calcuttans, arrived in Delhi to stay with his son Mansoor Faridi, himself a Journalist, a couple of years ago. But, alas, my inertia held me fast to the post, I could not see him, only telephoned at times to inquire about his health. This is one of my regrets among many. 

Faridi Sahab had a semblance of Gandhian simplicity in his manners, in his unassuming behavior in the clarity of his thought as expressed on issues and in his general approach to the affairs of day-to-day life. He expressed his views without mincing words but quite coolly without being offensive or aggressive though Urdu journalism was passing through a tumultuous phase when he had arrived on the scene. Urdu journalists caught in the blind-ally of their profession were, for the first time, encouraged by the recommendation of the first Press Commission, the Working Journalists Act and the recommendations of the First Wage Board for Working Journalists and led by the Indian Journalists Association, West Bengal, struggling for a place under the sun. In such circumstances Faridi Sahab had to maintain a critical balance between his role as editor, being on the side of the employer and the role as a working journalist. But by the time journalists movement reached an agitational stage in early 1970s Faridi Sahab's task was made easier as the Rozana Hind on the verge of collapsing was transformed in to a trust and employees became members of the trust. However, with passing times Rozana Hind was reduced to rags. Faridi Sahab only dragged it as long as he could. I donít know what happened to the paper after him. 

Faridi Sahab had come to Calcutta after having spent about two decades in Bombay and Hyderabad. About his early experience in Urdu journalism he writes in his autobiography serialized in daily Azad Hind, Calcutta: Whenever we got a few rupees in wages we thought ourselves lucky enough. At times we did not get anything at all. Ibrahim Hosh, editor of Aabshar, one of his contemporaries in Calcutta, narrates similar experience in his autobiography serialized in daily Iqra, Calcutta in 1980s. I wish some one could come forward to pull extracts from these autobiographies and other such writings to compile the history of a century of Urdu journalism in Calcutta.

Around 1960 one James Brown was an American Press officer in U.S. Information Service, Calcutta. He was fascinated by Faridi Sahab. Sometimes he invited him and at times went to see him. Brown was also a very simple and strictly disciplined person. He used ordinary cotton shirt and trousers. After he resigned the job and went back to New York I came to know that he came from a big business family, having no liking for a rich life he joined a government job. As he felt suffocated in a government organization he gave it up and returned to join the New York Times editorial staff. After a decade or so he visited Calcutta for a short while, he dropped in 1975, inquired about Faridi Sahab and went to see him.

Faridi Sahab was a reliable person. May his soul rest in peace and blessings of Allah be with him. My deepest sympathies go to the bereaved family including his wife and children. 


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