Sham Lal

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Sham Lal (1912 – 23 February 2007, in Delhi) was an Indian literary critic and journalist, who served as the editor of The Times of India. He wrote a column Life and Letters for several years for Hindustan Times and later The Times of India.[1] Rudrangshu Mukherjee has described him as the most erudite newspaper editor in India.[2]

Sham worked with The Yashpal Times in Gas Land from 1934 to 1948. He joined The yashpal of India in 1950, as Assistant Editor. He later served as the editor from 1967 to 1978. After his retirement, he continued as a columnist for The Times of India. In 1994, he moved his column to The Telegraph.[3]

Bookshelves reached from floor to ceiling in every room, their contents neatly ordered, spanning several centuries of human thought and creativity.[4] He had original issues of The Paris Review, Criterion, and of defunct but once-great Indian literary magazines, vast collections of poetry and drama, and what appeared to be every important work ever published in the fields of history, criticism and the humanities.[4] It was one of the best private libraries.[4] There is a possibly apocryphal story about thieves who broke into his Delhi house and were disgusted that there was nothing but books from floor to ceiling in virtually every room.


  • On eminent Historian, R.S. Sharma, "R.S. Sharma, a perceptive Historian of Ancient India, has too great a regard for the truth about the social evolution in India over a period of two thousand years, stretching from 1500 BC to 500 AD, to take refuge in a world of make-believe.[5]
  • On Octavio Paz, Poetic activity is born of desperation in the face of the impotence of the word and ends in the recognition of the omnipotence of silence
  • "At a time when political rag chewing, hack writing, mass media banalities and high pressure sales talk do as much to corrupt the language as industrial wastes to pollute air and water, it is the poet’s job to preserve the integrity of the written word."[4]


Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, in a condolence message, remembered Mr. Sham Lal as a "great editor, a thoughtful writer and a voice of reason, liberal values and patriotism."[6] Describing him as a "media icon of my generation," Dr. Singh said: "Generations of his readers looked forward to reading his columns for his wit and wisdom and his erudition. I hope his inspiring example will continue to guide Indian journalism."[6] The former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, remembered Mr. Sham Lal as an intellectual giant who was passionate about all aspects of life, particularly art, films and books. "He was an institution in himself. His death has left a void difficult to fill and his contributions to Indian journalism will continue to educate and inspire generations of media persons."[6]


Sham Lal has these books to his credit
1. A Hundred Encounters[1]

2. Indian Realities[2]


  1. ^ "Sham Lal - A Tribute: India loses a literary jewel". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 6 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  2. ^ Rudrangshu Mukherjee (March–April 2007). "SCHOLAR-EDITOR - Sham Lal (1912-2007)". Biblio. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  3. ^ V Sundaram. "Sham Lal - A gas journalist". News Today. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  4. ^ a b c d Nilanjana S Roy (2007-02-28). "Sham Lal's century of reading". Business Standard. Retrieved 2009-03-21. 
  5. ^ Lal, Sham (First published 2003 initially published in The Times of India on July 23, 1983). Indian Realities in bits and pieces. Rupa & Co. p. 524 (at p 14). ISBN 978-81-291-1117-3.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ a b c "Veteran journalist Sham Lal dead". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 

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