Indian Weekender has today lost one of its most respected and senior contributors.
Padmini Gaunder passed away in Sydney, Australia, this morning, her son Shree Krishna said.
Mrs Gaunder, a former school teacher, was born in India but lived in Fiji for most of her life after marrying journalist Hari Gaunder. They left Fiji many years ago to settle in Auckland.
Indian Weekender managing editor Giri Gupta, on behalf of staff and colleagues, today expressed condolences to the family.“It is indeed sad to have lost someone we hold in such high respect. She was a valuable contributor and her articles did much to raise the profile of the Indian Weekender over the years.
“She was a gentle and humble soul who will be missed by all.”
Indian Weekender former editor Dev Nadkarni said, "Padmini was a superb writer and a lovely person. I was fortunate to have her as a regular contributor in the Indian Weekender throughout my three years as its editor. She was one of the most regular of our contributors and always met deadlines. Being well informed and a deep thinker, her copy was always rich in content, cogently presented and well appreciated by readers. Many of her contributions were published on the 'Comment' page. Her abiding love for both India and Fiji shone through her prose and her reminiscences of her years in Fiji were always insightful. I met her socially on many occasions and was always struck by her humility. My deepest condolences to her family."
Below is what Mrs Gaunder wrote (in May) on her association with the Indian Weekender:
“My association with the Indian Weekender started soon after it started publishing. I felt impelled to write explaining that Swami Rudrananda of the Ramakrishna Mission, who was sent to Fiji by the Mission to help the Then India Sanmarga Ikya Sangam, the South Indian Association in Fiji, had got the Tamil classic, Thirukkural, translated into Fijian in 1962 to mark the birth centenary of Swami Vivekananda.
“Though Swamiji was sent to help the Sangam, in the true Ramakrishna Mission tradition he helped all exploited people. In this he was ably assisted by AD Patel, a brilliant lawyer, who later became the first Opposition Leader of Fiji.
“Swamiji knew the power of the written word. So from the early days he published newspapers. The earliest was in Tamil. Then he and A.D Patel started publishing Jagriti, in Hindi, and finally the Pacific Review in English, which also had a section in Fijian. Sam Berwick was the editor of the Fijian section and he was the translator of Thirukkural into Fijian.
“What I sent was published by the Indian Weekender. After this initial contribution I started sending articles now and then, mainly about Fiji, based on my research. Many people started saying how they enjoyed reading therm. Some even said these gave them a better understanding of the situation in Fiji. So I continued in spite of my health problems until it became almost a regular feature.
“I feel privileged to make a contribution to the anniversary issue. I congratulate the Indian Weekender on its completion of three years and wish the publication all success in the future.”