Hyderabad: India lost one of its most prominent, tireless and endearing cancer specialist in Dr V Shanta at the ripe age of 93 in Chennai.
In Hyderabad, the city lost its most informed and raconteur of its history, a man of humour and full of life, Mr Narendra Luther at the age of 89.
While Dr Shanta was a low profile, focussed and dedicated doctor and scientist caring for patients and finding cures against cancer for 7 decades, Luther, an IAS officer, was in the limelight with his postings, writings and deeds for almost half a century.
He will be remembered for his enormous contributions to Hyderabad History and development. Born in Hoshiarpur, Punjab, IAS brought him to the city and he instantly fell in love with it.
I remember, in the mid 1980s, Luther Saab organised the first ever World Humour Conference in Hyderabad. It was a big hit and brought out the witty and humorous side of the bureaucrat.
He was a champion of conservation of heritage, save the rocks and also keeping alive Hyderabadi traditions like Mushairas (poetry recitation sessions), theatre and tourist places. He was Secretary Tourism nearly 3 times in his career.
I had the opportunity of spending an unforgettable evening in his home when the Luthers hosted the irrepressible Khushwant Singh decades ago. Thereafter, met him on many occasions for reference on Hyderabad in my journalist career.
Interestingly, his two children Sandhya (a Journalist, film maker) and Rahul were both my seniors at the Nizam College. Hyderabad is a loser in the passing away of Luther Saab.
Sadly, a day earlier on January 18, another well-known Hyderabadi and rare politician, Burugula Narsingh Rao too passed away. Nephew of the first Chief Minister of Hyderabad State, Burugula Ramakrishna Rao, he was also in his late 1980s.
Talk about cancer research and one of the top names in India will be Dr V Shanta. In Chennai, she was synonymous with the Adyar Cancer Hospital and Research Centre for more than half a century.
Dr Shanta was modest, caring, maintained a very low profile. Her contributions spoke loudly. She won the BC Roy Award, the Magsaysay Award and the Padma Vibhushan.
I fondly remember her stirring lecture after receiving the Y Nayudamma Award in Tenali a decade ago to a packed audience. She was the first woman scientist to be honoured by the Nayudamma Trust, founded by the late P Vishnumurthy, who single handedly organised 24 lectures in a quarter century. I had the opportunity to be associated with the Trust and also covered many of the lectures.
Somasekhar Mulugu, former Associate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine, is a well-known political, business and science writer and analyst based in Hyderabad.