Rarely does one come across a man with not just a high intellect but knowledge of various fields. Dr. Dilip Padgaonkar was one such man. He was the Editor of the Times of India. A man who was deeply respected by all who knew him. His intellect can be gauged from the fact that in April 2002 Dr. Padgaonkar was honoured with the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest civilian distinction for his services to journalism.
After his retirement he settled in Pune. My father Dr. S. B. Mujumdar had been his Professor and had taught Dr. Dilip Padgaonkar when he was studying in Fergusson. When he settled down in Pune, he was offered the position of the ‘R K Laxman Chair Professor’ at Symbiosis International University. R K Laxman was a close friend of my father Dr Mujumdar and spent his last few years in Pune, inspiring students at Symbiosis. Dr Padgaonkar fitted so well into this position of a Chair Professor, as he was very fond of teaching. He left an indelible mark on the students and faculty through his intellectual and inspirational involvement.
Considering he was so prolific, it is a surprise that Dr. Dilip never bothered to get a collection of his writing published. He was far keener to read books, engage with cerebral people, watch good films and listen to good music. Having studied in France, he could read and speak French fluently. He was also a foodie and had immense knowledge on cuisines of different regions. He would even deliver lectures on the origin of ‘Jalebi’.
I still remember my personal discussions with him on recipes of food from different regions and cultures like a dish with a quirky name ‘Khat khata’ which was so typically made in Saraswat Brahmin families (both Dilip sir and I belong to this clan), so whenever I made it I would send it to him!
My father would often discuss education for the younger generation with him and he would share his insights. In fact, when the Symbiosis School for International Studies was established in 2012, Dr. Dilip Padgaonkar was one of the mentors. His visits to the institution were looked forward to with immense eagerness. Discussions between him and the students always brought out information that we had perhaps not heard elsewhere.
His untimely demise in 2016, was a terrible blow to Indian journalism and to Symbiosis. However, at Symbiosis we decided to initiate the ‘Dr. Dilip Padgaonkar memorial lecture’ series, a public lecture in his memory. Eminent journalists join us every year and discussions on national and international issues are held on this platform. This year too, the lecture is to be held on the 1st of Dec’2022 at Symbiosis Vishwabhavan. Yogita Limaye, South Asia Correspondent BBC News will be speaking. The raging conflicts in the several regions of the world, will be discussed through the topic- Covering Conflict, Notes from Afghanistan and Ukraine.
Dr. Padgaonkar impacted the lives of many of us through his sharp intellect, his acumen for understanding people and society, and his prolific work as a journalist and the Editor of ‘The Times of India’. Besides being a part of the classroom, where he enthralled the students with his lectures, Dr Padgaonkar spearheaded projects on rural journalism and journalistic news values. He campaigned for the value of satire in journalism. Dr Padgaonkar was the face of several panel discussions and conferences at Symbiosis. His interest in diverse foods and cultures, and his characteristic wit enriched both the conversations and his listeners.
Dr Padgaonkar’s presence is deeply missed at Symbiosis, but his legacy continues to inspire us in many ways.