Rest in Press, Ranjan Roy


Rest in Press, Ranjan Roy
Ranjan Roy: Thorough professional, irresistible cool, believer in communal harmony.

The Aman Ki Asha team extends deep condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Ranjan Roy, chief of the Times News Network (TNN) and a member of the paper’s national editorial board.

Front page featuring Aman Ki Asha Economic Meet, May 2010.

Front page featuring Aman Ki Asha Economic Meet, May 2010.

When Aman Ki Asha was launched in January 2010, Ranjan handled coverage of all the events on the ground, and the Aman Ki Asha pages produced in India. At events like music festivals, businesspersons’ meetings, literary festivals and strategic seminars on tricky issues like water and terrorism, he oversaw the teams of multiple reporters focusing on various aspects of happening.

“Ranjan came to Aman Ki Asha looking for an idyllic romantic past where we all lived in communal harmony. He ended up believing in just such a future,” says Imran Aslam, President of Geo TV who was involved in the process from the start.

At the AKA events he was present for in India and in Pakistan, while efficiently coordinating and supervising reporting, editing, visuals and design, Ranjan found time to connect with colleagues across the border on a human level.

“Ranjan was also a quiet wit,” recalls Shahrukh Hasan, CEO of Jang Group who led the process in Pakistan. “On the day of that famous India-Pakistan cricket match in Mohali, I received a text message from him ‘Aman ki Asha on hold today’.”

Inside half page featuring Peace hankies campaign, June 2010

Inside half page featuring Peace hankies campaign, June 2010

An alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi, and Princeton University, from where he did his Masters in Public Affairs, Ranjan blazed a remarkable trail through the Press Trust of India in New Delhi and the Associated Press in Kuala Lumpur and New York before returning to India in 2004 to head TNN. In subsequent years, TOI expanded from fewer than 10 editions to about 60, with a network of correspondents unmatched in the history of Indian media. It was a tough, high-pressure job that involved round-the-clock coordination and constant ideation, but Ranjan did it without breaking a sweat.

Pushing, prompting, cajoling, clarifying, he would spend hours working the phone as he meticulously curated the best stories from across the length and breadth of India. His role required him to function from Delhi, but he never lost a reporter’s wanderlust. A generous and insightful mentor, he always encouraged younger colleagues to head out to remote locations — the more far-flung, the better — to search for untold stories and unexplored angles.

Inside full page on the Kashmir conflict, Jan. 2010.

Inside full page on the Kashmir conflict, Jan. 2010.

Ranjan was blessed with that indefinable quality — a natural, easy-going, irresistible ‘cool’ that made people gravitate towards him. But he was never flippant when it came to work. Not only did he not suffer fools, he left them in no doubt about what he thought of them. People who tried to bluff their way past him quickly learned the hard way that it was better to do their homework thoroughly.

He had continued to do a full day’s job despite his illness and being told by colleagues to “take it easy”. When it became clear that even Ranjan’s indomitable will could no longer keep pushing his body — which had been ravaged by his years-long, courageous battle against cancer — his colleagues at TOI gathered on a sunny winter day earlier this year for one more memorable party with him.

Ranjan was his usual gracious self, as were his wife Vidhu and son Aman. After much food and drink, nostalgic sharing and gentle ribbing, as the lunch concluded, Ranjan cheerfully observed, “Now, that was an afternoon worth dying for.”

Only he could have said it without sounding even the slightest bit maudlin, and without a hint of self-pity. There was laughter, as there had been so many times before, at his seemingly inappropriate, politically incorrect remarks that somehow came out just right when he said them, with that wonderfully impish charm and complete lack of awkwardness.

Rest in Press Ranjan. You will be much missed.

— Beena Sarwar, with inputs from the TOI obituary.




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