Veteran Hindi author and editor Ramesh Upadhyaya passed away recently at the age of 79 in Delhi. His contributions to Hindi literature and journalism as well as education spread over more than five decades were invaluable. He received several awards including the prestigious Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi Award. His perspective was that of a left-oriented thinker with deep commitments to social and economic justice and inter-faith harmony.
In literature his biggest contribution was in the form of short stories. He published 15 collections of short stories but he is also known for his novels and plays. His closeness to social movements led him to pen street theatre plays as well.
Ramesh Upadhyaya was the founder editor of respected journal Kathan which has continued regular publication ( with one or two short interruptions) in the middle of many difficulties for several years. This journal combines literature with articles on contemporary themes of high social relevance, with one important theme being taken up for more detailed analysis. Later some of this more detailed analysis also appeared in books edited by Ramesh Upadhyaya. He was helped greatly in this work by his daughter Sangya Upadhyaya who has proved a worthy successor as editor of Kathan and brought out several valuable issues of the journal. Kathan has developed a very involved readership over the years and cooperation of its many well-wishers will be needed to keep the journal coming out regularly . It is a very good example of how a low budget journal can come out over a long period of several years and make an important contribution . Hindi literature and journalism certainly need journals of deep social commitment like this in these difficult times.
In this journal and in book form also Ramesh Upadhyaya also wrote on various schools of thought and philosophy . He started his own publishing house as well which brought out several such valuable books.
He taught Hindi for nearly three decades at the College for Vocational Studies. He was associated with several progressive causes but was at the same keen to devote more time to his writings. He read a lot and enjoyed being in his study.
Born in a village of Etah in Uttar Pradesh in 1942, he came up the hard way, working in various jobs to pay for his higher education including doctorate. During his difficult days, the unwavering support of his wife, a teacher, played a very important role in his ability to launch and continue his many-sided efforts in journalism, literature and publishing. Starting with working in some media outlets, he gradually drifted towards his own publishing where the ideas he wanted to spread could find more free expression.
Despite his many-sided achievements, many would like to remember him above all as a warm-hearted friend. Despite all his literary pursuits, he would find the time to be at ease with friends and have long conversations.
His passing away is also a great personal loss for me and I will cherish the memory of our meetings and conversations for a long time.
Rest in peace, Ramesh Ji.
Bharat Dogra is a senior journalist