I heard about this man, a teacher from ACJ, one of the premier Journalim institutes in India. The teacher in him was ruthless when it came to English in particular and journalistic writing in general. Here is the piece about him and The statemans’ style of thanking him
Picture courtesy MID DAY
here is a blog by one of his students and collegues
Sans Serif records with regret the passing away of editor, teacher, writer and language terrorist, Jyoti Sanyal, in Calcutta on Saturday, 12 April 2008.
Until 1996, The Statesman followed a curious mix of language standards as its house style. The reason was that the Style Book we followed was little more than a collection of notes and injunctions penned by editors and news editors over the years.
Reporters and sub-editors would shun a particular usage, even if it was apt, because the word in the office was that Mr So-and-so did not like it. And sometimes we adopted eccentricities, such as the persistent use of Lallu, with its offensive, elitist overtone, to describe the politician who is now the Railway Minister, and passed it off as our “style”.
Jyoti Sanyal, who died in Kolkata over the weekend, was the man who wrote The Statesman Style Book. Mercurial and acerbic, Jyoti favoured a personal style that rubbed many people the wrong way. It wasn’t enough to correct someone who, in his view, was talking nonsense; he did so with a raised eyebrow and a sneer that was intended to leave his victim in tatters.
This treatment was fairly dished out in equal measure to his bosses, his colleagues and sometimes his subordinates. Yet, Jyoti always had time for the young journalist who wished to learn. He would sit the person down, explain why he or she must avoid circumlocution, and warn of the perils of learning the language from Government Press releases.
Indeed, Jyoti was convinced many of the ills of Indian English flowed from the tortured sentence-construction imposed upon us by the Victorian baboos who ruled us ~ and gave us our writing style ~ from Writers’ Building. The Statesman Style Book is a 577-page compendium. It tells journalists how to write and, equally, how not to write. If all journalists on our staff followed it, we would possibly be the best-written, best-edited newspaper in Asia.
Once work on The Style Book was over, Jyoti opted to take a leave of absence from The Statesman and went to head the Asian College of Journalism in Bangalore. After three years, he resigned from The Statesman saying he enjoyed being a teacher. When ACJ changed owners and moved to Chennai, he joined another journalism school in Bangalore as its head. In his last years, he set up Clear English India in Kolkata, an initiative by plain English campaigners, wrote an extremely well-received book called Indlish, and waged his battle to keep the language simple. He has left an unfinished agenda and the last time we spoke on telephone, we shared a laugh over how standards had slipped between 1996 and 2007.
The Statesman owes him a debt; he redefined our style. ~ r.k.
And here is what his collegues and friends feel about him
and this is where the man taught and became a legend