“One who has taken his birth is sure to die, and after death one is sure to take birth again. Therefore, in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament” BHAGAVAD GITA (CHAPTER 2, VERSE 27)
On Sunday, September 03, 2023, I got a call from my friend and a senior photo journalist Mohammed Shafiq informing me that Deepangshu Dev Sarmah was no more. He was at that time working with Mobility Outlook, a B2B auto news portal, as its Founding Editor.
I had not met Deepangshu for a long time, as I had pressed the pause button on my professional career, having spent more than 12 years as Editor of Motown India print magazine.
Death does not scare me at all. As the Bhagavad Gita, the Holy Book of the Hindus, says very clearly, “One who has taken birth is sure to die…”. What shocked me was the fact that he was too young to die. He was barely 45 years old. I have never seen him consume alcohol, smoke or even lose his cool. He always had a smile on his face and there was a calm aura about him.
When I was actively pursuing auto journalism a little over a year back, I used to often bump into him during junkets involving new car drives. Seeing the growing breed of influencers and half baked auto journalists at these junkets, I used to tell him, “Deepangshu, it’s so heartening to see you. At least, in the midst of so many sleazy characters it’s good to see a journalist…” He used to smile, his boyish face radiating with warmth, and would reply to me, “Punnoose, it’s good to see you too”.
As the Bhagavad Gita further says, “…in the unavoidable discharge of your duty, you should not lament”. Deepangshu was on his way to Germany on the invitation of a company. He had reached Dubai and was to board another flight to Munich. He collapsed at the Dubai airport and died, apparently of a massive cardiac arrest.
A few days later on September 6, as I was relaxing at home, I got a message from another friend and photo journalist Mohd Nasir telling me that Deepangshu would be cremated at 1 pm at a crematorium in Noida, on the outskirts of Delhi. I took a taxi and reached the spot and as I stepped into the cramped and crowded crematorium, I heard the priests reciting their prayers, and saw my friend’s body shrouded in white cloth. A short prayer later, his body was consigned to the flames.
Among the several conversations we had in the past, I remember him talking fondly about his daughter and wife, two individuals who would miss him the most. While his friends will miss him, it would be his immediate family that would have to bear his loss and live with the grief for a long, long time. I wish them peace and strength.
Deepangshu did well, professionally. He had the good fortune of becoming the Editor of three good auto magazines / portals. He was the Editor of Auto Monitor tabloid magazine, having succeeded Murali Gopalan, the magazine's Founding Editor, several years after the former had left the magazine to become the Editor of Autocar Professional, as its Founding Editor. In fact, it was Murali who had recruited Deepangshu. Murali incidentally became my Editor at Autocar Professional, where I worked as the Delhi Bureau Chief of both Autocar India as well as Autocar Professional.
After Auto Monitor, Deepangshu became the Editor of Autotech Review in New Delhi. This magazine was part of the Springer Nature Group of Germany. Once the magazine shut down, post the terrible Covid times, Deepangshu spent some time doing some business but almost immediately landed himself a job in Mobility Outlook, as its Founding Editor.
Mobility Outlook calls itself a mobility-focused offering from CarWale. CarWale, on the other hand is a platform where car buyers and owners can research, buy, sell and come together to discuss and talk about their cars.
Deepangshu will be missed as an auto journalist. I will miss him, because he had quite a bit of values of the old school journalism. As part of his job profile, Deepangshu was a curator of several industry-leading conferences and knowledge platforms, besides being a speaker and moderator at multiple industry forums.
Today’s auto journalism may not really miss him. As I have always reiterated, auto journalism today is a profession that has less to do with journalism and more to do with entertainment, junkets (both foreign and domestic), gifts, parties and launches. Auto journalists and influencers are more like the cheer girls jumping up and down in their lovely miniskirts. The only difference here is that instead of skirts, it’s their shallow values that expose them way too often.
PS: Deepangshu Dev Sarmah picture has been taken from his Facebook account page
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