Mulk Raj Anand, R.I.P.
Also See: A Mellowing Mulk by
Khushwant Singh and
Was He A Master?
by Manjula Padmanabhan
Pune, Sept 28 (PTI) Mulk Raj Anand, one of the brightest figures among Indian writers in English, whose works depicted the lives of people in the country's traditional society, died here this morning at the age of 99.
Anand, a winner of many national and international awards, including Padma Bhusan, died due to old age complications at around 0830 hours in city's Jehangir Hospital where he was admitted on September 17 for treatment of pneumonia, Ram Gohar, his caretaker told PTI.
He is survived by his wife, who lives in Mumbai, and a London-based daughter, Gohar said adding both of them have been informed about his death.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up the hospital to offer his condolences. Maharashtra Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde also mourned his death.
Born, in Peshawar in 1905, Anand was known for his novels 'Untouchable', 'Two Leaves and a Bud' and 'Coolie' among others. He graduated from the Punjab University in 1924 and did his additional studies at Cambridge and at London University, receiving his Ph.D in 1929.
Anand was Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Arts at the Punjab University and visting professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla. He was also the fine art chairman of Lalit Kala Akademi.
Staying in Khandala-Lonavala in Pune district, not very far from Mumbai, Anand has bequeathed his property through a will to the Sarvodaya Trust set up by him. It was his wish that his property and other belongings be used for charitable purposes, the caretaker said.
Anand, son of a coppersmith and soldier, attended Khalsa College, Amritsar, studied and later lectured at League of Nations School of Intellectual Cooperation in Geneva. He also lectured, on and off between 1932 and 1945, at Workes Educational Association in London.
Anand divided his time between literary London and Gandhi's India in the 1930s and 1940s, joining the struggle for independence. He also fought with Republicans in the Spenish Civil War. During World War II he worked as a broadcaster and scriptwriter in the film division of the BBC in London.
After the war Anand returned permanently to India and made Mumbai his home town and center of activity. In 1946 he founded the fine-arts magazine 'Marg'. He also become director of Kutub publishers.
He started writing at an early age. He wrote his first prose in reaction to the trauma of the suicide of an aunt who had been excommunicated for dining with a Muslim woman.
Anand began his career as a writer in England by publishing short notes on books. In the early 1930s Anand wrote books on art history and his first major novel 'Untouchable' appeared in 1935.
A writer with socialist leanings, Anand was greatly influenced by Karl Marx and Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi, whose imprints could be seen in his two popular novels -- 'Coolie' and `Untouchable'.
Most of his major works were done in 1930s and 1940s after he returned from Cambridge with a Ph.D in philosophy. Writing in English with a Punjabi flair and flavour, Anand had also penned short stories, including some for children.
Anand's wife Shireen Wajibdar, aged 94, has already reached Khandala, where the prominent author's last rites would be held, his nephew Baldevraj Anand told PTI.
The cremation would take place at 3 pm on Thursday, he said.
However, the celebrated author's London-based daugher Susheela Anand is unlikely to attend her father's last rites due to her illness.
District Collector Prabhakar Deshmukh was personally supervising the arrangements for taking the body to Khandala.
Earlier, Anand's body was moved into an ambulance to be taken to Khandala, but after a change in plan, it was shifted to the hospital morgue.
Since there (in Khandala) were no facilities to preserve the body for another 48 hours to enable people to pay their last respects, the late author's mortal remains would be shifted either tomorrow or on Thursday itself, Baldevraj said.
"Mulk Raj Anand was third among four brothers and after my father's death when I was a small kid, it was he who brought us up, got us educated and married", an emotional Baldevraj said.
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