Vinod Mehta was an editor for all seasons. At various points in his career, he had launched (or relaunched) publications of all colours—from Debonair, the girlie magazine, to the Sunday Observer, India’s first Sunday paper, to The Independent. His crowing glory was the Outlook magazine, which he founded and remained the editor-in-chief of till 2012. All through, he remained irreverent and liberal, sometimes to the cost of incurring a proprietor or two’s displeasure (that is, till Outlook happened)—something he wrote of with a certain degree of pride in the first volume of his memoir, Lucknow Boy. It was these traits that those who had known him, including some of the biggest names in Indian journalism today, chose to celebrate on his passing on Sunday. He never restrained his sharp sense of a good, and relevant, story—even when Outlook broke the Radia tapes story that saw the A Raja telecom scandal unravel.
Mehta has his rightful place on the roster of India’s greatest editors. His passing, therefore, represents the end of an era. At the same time, that there are many able keepers of his legacy and also those who, by challenging it, help Indian journalism remain vibrant for ideas and perspective, should inspire the hope that we haven’t seen the last of the likes of Mehta.