Reminiscing the life of a newspaper Icon and Guwahati’s great Philanthropist
“Our lion has passed away. Now, when I look at his office, I don’t know how to feel. It’s empty and he’s gone. He had only one ideology ever: Don’t delay anything. If you can complete something today, do it. Whatever resources you need, take it and do it now. Never leave anything for later,” said Dipak Barman, a close associate of GL Agarwalla, his eyes red from lack of sleep, but not lack of grief.
January 31 was a sad day for the city of Guwahati as it lost one of its most prominent figures, GL Agarwalla, Chief Managing Director of GL Publications Ltd and eminent social worker, philanthropist. He had been fighting a prolonged illness and was undergoing treatment at Nemcare Hospital. Agarwalla was 79 years old when he passed away at his Lachit Nagar residence.
Speaking to G Plus, Barman, who was the right-hand man of Agarwalla said that his mentor was not only a philanthropist but a man of many talents. He had made his mark in the newspaper industry and how! He was the editor-in-chief of The Meghalaya Guardian, editor of The North East Times, managing editor of the Assamese daily, Amar Asom and Editor of one of the highest circulated Hindi dailies, Purbanchal Prahari.
Taking a look back at Agarwalla’s life, he was born on September 19, 1940 at Barpeta Road and did his schooling there. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Hindi) from BH College and was one of the most eminent personalities in the newspaper business during the 1980s.
It was in 1989 that Agarwalla started GL Publications Ltd with the sole intention to publish a daily newspaper. He was a prolific writer and has been part of many path-breaking publications such as the Barpeta Zillarthaan Satra Aru Math-Mandir, Desh-Bedekhar Rong Butoli, Jugadrista Jyotiprasad. He was also associated with the publication of the first Assamese encyclopedia, Asomiya Vishwakosh which was made in collaboration with the Asam Sahitya Sabha and he was also the general secretary of the North East Newspapers’ Society.
In addition to being a flamboyant yet modest newspaperman, Agarwalla was also a pioneer of social work in Assam. His GL Social Circle is considered one of the best practices in the country and his ambulance service, which also includes a hearse service, was a first-of-its-kind in the region. He was also the man who was instrumental for the complete overhaul of the Bhootnath cremation ground at Bharalamukh in Guwahati.
Agarwalla was a man who could do it all. He was even associated with a number of socio-cultural and religious organizations, including the Asam Sahitya Sabha. He is also a recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including the Dr Ambedkar Award for Social Service in 1998 and has represented Assam in various national and international media events.
Dr Lakhminandan Bora, Homen Borgohain, Dr Nagen Saikia, Kanaksen Deka, Late Mamoni Raisom Goswami, Dhirendra Nath Chakraborty - all prominent literary figures - also contributed to a biography related to Shri Agarwalla’s lifetime contributions entitled “GL Agarwalla: Ek Swapna Drastra.”
Many prominent figures have mourned the loss of Guwahati’s publishing icon.
“A hardworking and enterprising personality, he contributed immensely to the growth of media in the state. He was also a noted social worker who worked for the social empowerment of the downtrodden and marginalized section of the society. A multi-faceted personality, he was also known for his flair in literature and his death is a great loss to the state,” said Governor Prof Jagdish Mukhi.
“By establishing newspapers such as Amar Asom and Hindi daily, Purbanchal Prahari, Agarwalla contributed immensely to the journalism sector of the state and through his GLP Social Circle, he touched many lives in their times of need. His contribution to the different aspects of Assamese society is unparalled and the people of the state would always remember his work in the field of journalism and social service,” said Sarbananda Sonowal, chief minister of Assam, in a statement.
Former chief minister of Assam, Tarun Gogoi also offered his condolences and wrote on his Twitter that he was “deeply anguished on the passing away of eminent journalist, publisher and social worker GL Agarwalla. His contribution to the print media as well as social work in Assam will remain indelible. My condolences to his family and friends in this time of grief.”
GL Agarwalla leaves behind a son, a daughter-in-law, four daughters, four sons-in-law, granddaughters and grandsons among various relatives and admirers.
G Plus pays its tribute to GL Agarwalla with prayers that his great soul rests in sublime eternal peace.