Gopal Raju’s legacy remembered in virtual memorial

April 15th, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by admin  


New York, April 15 (IANS) Friends and associates of publisher Gopal Raju, who died last week, gathered in cyberspace to pay tribute to the man who networked the global Indian diaspora through the media and helped create new awareness of the strengths of migrants from India. The New York-based South Asian Journalists Association (SAJA) organised the virtual memorial service Monday for Raju to enable participants from the US, India and many other countries to remember the man who virtually single-handedly effected a paradigm shift in the manner in which Americans viewed the Indian disapora and of the possibilities it held for enriching their lives.

People from around the world were able to log on to the website for the memorial service and listen to it or speak. A recording of the service is available at the website that hosted it.

Be it his long term associate Veena Merchant or Tarun Basu, chief editor of the (IANS) that Raju created as the India Abroad News Service, former diplomat T.P. Sreenivasan, Indian American journalist Mayank Chhaya or Thomas Abraham of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, all speakers at the 90-minute service stressed on Raju’s self-effacement, his insistence on accuracy and above all, his quest for the truth at the cost of annoying the powers that might be.

What came out strongly at the end of the service was the humility of a man who strove for over five decades to serve as a bridge between America and its vast Indian diaspora by connecting the two communities to encourage better understanding - without seeking anything in return.

“Gopal Raju was so stoic and brave that he continued to work (from his hospital bed) till the hour before he died,” noted Merchant, the principal speaker at the service who now edits the News India-Times weekly newspaper here.

“He was a tough boss and a perfectionist and when you got to know him, you realised that he was very fair at the end of the day,” Merchant added.

According to Sreenivasan, the Indian American Centre for Political Awareness founded by Raju had, over the years, succeeded in creating a new awareness among US lawmakers through the interns it helped place on Capitol Hill.

“This has helped US lawmakers see India in a different light,” said Sreenivasan, who was deputy head of the Indian embassy in Washington in the difficult days following the Indian nuclear tests of 1998.

Noting that “without the media, no community can move forward”, Abraham said that Raju’s efforts “were a great help for community mobilisation at a time when we were spread across America and with no Internet”.

“He also opened up opportunities for young Indian journalists to come to America,” Abraham added.

Raju, 80, died last Thursday after a brief illness. He founded the India Abroad newspaper, the (IANS), the Indian American Foundation (IAF) and the Indian American Center for Political Action (IACPA).

At the time of his death, he was publisher of the weekly newspapers News India-Times, Desi Talk and Gujarat Times.

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