NEW DELHI, Oct 12: Mr Umashanker Phadnis, an eminent journalist and a correspondent for the Dawn newspaper, passed away in here on Saturday. He was 78.

Born in village Hasan in Karnataka, he was guided by his father, a doctor by profession. He studied in a school in Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

In the early 1940s when the call for independence was electrifying India, he moved to Patchaivappa college, Madras and plunged into the underground activities of the freedom movement. Like thousands of others at that time, he responded to Gandhiji’s call and went to jail in 1942.

Umashanker Phadnis attended the first session of the Congress held in 1946 though from the sidelines. Instead, he immersed himself in the socialist movement which took him to Benaras Hindu University which was then the centre of socialist activities. He was deeply fired by leaders like Acharya Narendra Dev and a very young Jayaprakash Narayan. When the Socialist Party broke up he became a member of the Prajya Socialist Party and became a full timer working in the Adult Education Board in Delhi.

In the mid-sixties he was assigned by the then editor of the Hindustan Times S. Mulgaonkar to do a series of features on the north east. Mr Mulgaonkar was so impressed with the writings that he offered him a job with the Hindustan Times, where he worked for 23 years before retiring as the newspaper’s diplomatic editor in 1985.

Umashanker Phadnis married Urmila, herself a scholar who specialized in South Asian Studies and ethnicity. He is survived by a son and a daughter.

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