It is my honor to write this tribute to the late Tejinder Singh who I feel proud to call a friend. Tejinder grew up in a small town called Kharagpur in the State of West Bengal, India. He enrolled in one of the prestigious and premier technical colleges– the Indian Institute of Technology/Kharagpur (IIT/KGP) to be a civil engineer. But his passion was journalism, and he abandoned the idea of being an engineer. He became a journalist that took him to Greece, Geneva, Brussels and finally the United States.
I met Tejinder about 4 years back at an event in the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. We soon connected as I also attended IIT/KGP. In our first meeting he spoke excitedly about his work and particularly India America Today (IAT), the monthly newspaper for which he was the Editor. He roped me into being on the IAT Board and soon assigned me the task of writing an article about Africa, a continent that I know well. He became fascinated about Africa and wondered aloud ‘Why are Africans mired in poverty despite having so many resources”. He read up a lot about Africa and it was not uncommon for him to come to my home late in the evening to talk about Africa. ‘I want to go to Africa’ he said one evening. And I promised to take him with me on my next trip. But the pandemic upset all plans and his dream remained unfulfilled.
Teji, as he was known to his friends, was a special person who loved his profession but loved meeting and interacting with people more. No one was a stranger to Teji. He would contact anyone who would be able to answer his probing questions for an article he was writing. Although known as a journalist, he was more than that. He was a caring person who respected the otherness of others.
One of the recent highlights of his career was the trip in November, 2019 as a part of a group of pilgrims who traveled from Punjab, India to Kartarpur Gurudwara in Pakistan, a holy site for the Sikhs. He proudly showed off the pictures of his trip at a gathering in our house. At this event he was a little child with a new toy!
Teji was a gentleman and always respectful even when asking tough questions at press briefings. For those of us who knew him as a friend and shared stories and laughter will miss him, but always knowing that he was a remarkable person, and I feel privileged to have known him.