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In memoriam: Remembering the lives lost to COVID-19

A short tribute to some brilliant minds across the industry lost during the pandemic

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Mumbai: The ebbing of the second wave of the pandemic is gradually paving the way for “normal” life to return. The restrictions are beginning to ease and industries are opening up. But with scientists warning of a possible third wave of infections, uncertainties are clouding what the future might hold. Even as people go about picking up the pieces of their lives and putting them back together- trying to return to some semblance of normalcy, some things will remain unchanged, things like the loss of loved ones.

IndianTelevision joins these families, in remembering the life of some of the industry’s brightest minds lost to the deadly virus.

Apurv Kumar Passi, 35 - Adobe India 

Apurv Kumar Passi, 35 joined Adobe India in 2019 as a senior marketing specialist for digital media solutions. In a career spanning over 12 years, Passi spent a decade working for Publicis Groupe Co. He succumbed to COVID-19 on 10 May after battling the virus for three weeks. He is survived by his mother, younger brother, and wife.

In a double tragedy that struck the family, Passi first lost his father to the dreaded virus, and within two weeks of his death, he succumbed to it. He desperately tried to ensure that his father gets critical medical care at the right time, even as his condition deteriorated rapidly.  In his memory, his colleagues and friends launched a fundraising campaign to raise funds for covid relief.

His marketing colleague from Adobe, Bhavna Saluja, posted a personal memoir on the fundraiser page, detailing Apurv’s courageous battle with the dreaded virus while looking after his family. “He was everyone’s well-wisher who managed to cross the biggest hurdles of life, with a smile on his face. He was always available to help and sacrificed a lot. Everyone can find a piece of themselves in our Apurv. That’s how special he was!” wrote Saluja “If Apurv were alive today, he would’ve rushed to help more families going through this crisis, maybe just extend that warm hand so that no one else went through the pain he and the Passi family went through, (while) trying to save his dad.”

Anirban bora, 42 - Economic Times 

Senior journalist, infographic editor, and illustrator Anirban Bora, 42 worked with The Economic Times, New Delhi. He breathed life into stories with his stunning infographics, drew caricatures & designed the paper. A food aficionado,  Bora also wrote a gastronomy column in the ET's Sunday Magazine. His work had a character and style, and he loved applying ancient art strokes to modern illustrations. "A quick thinker, a problem-solver, and a magical artist who helped writers on a visual block day," recalled his colleagues at ET.

Bora succumbed to COVID-19 on 1 May and survived by his wife and son. "Thank you for making us look at life from your canvas. Thank you for clearing our chaotic minds with your visuals. Thank you for being a fine storyteller. We will miss you! On behalf of team Brand Equity, Ani, this one's for you," wrote his colleague Priyanka Nair after his demise in a column in ET.

Rohit Sardana, 41 - Aaj Tak 

TV news anchor Rohit Sardana was the executive editor of Aaj Tak of the India Today Group, who also presented the evening show 'Dangal' on Aaj Tak. Before joining Aaj Tak in 2017, he was with Zee News where he anchored a prime-time show Taal Thok Ke. Prior to this, Sardana worked for ETV Network and All India Radio. He was a recipient of the 2018 Ganesh Vidyarthi Puraskar Award.

Sardana died of cardiac arrest caused by Covid-related complications on 30 April, days after he tested positive for the infection. He is survived by his wife, two young daughters, and parents. Aaj Tak and India Today News director Rahul Kanwal remembered Sardana as a "sharp young anchor" who never flinched from asking questions. "Rohit Sardana was the sharpest young anchor I have met. Superb command over Hindi, brilliant with his turn of phrase, precise questions, clear in his thinking, loved by the masses, warm and humble off the screen, he was destined for great things," Kanwal tweeted.

India Today Group Founder, chairman, and editor-in-chief Aroon Purie remembered him as 'a star of the newsroom'. “He had conquered the hearts of both TV and digital viewers. He had so much more to do," he said.

Syed Mohammed Talha Nazim, 46 - Ogilvy India

Nazim, 46 was appointed the executive creative director for Ogilvy’s Bangalore office in May last year, his second stint at the agency. Before a short spell as an entrepreneur in 2019, he was the creative head at Innocean Worldwide. In a career spanning 21 years he worked with Leo Burnett, Bates, McCann, and Ogilvy, and was responsible for his work on several renowned brands. He had won over 180 metals and nominations in international and domestic award shows such as Cannes, D&AD, The One Show, Clio, LIA, Andys, Adfest, Spikes, NY Festivals, and Abbys, having also won Ogilvy’s only Cannes Lion in 2015.

Nazim died after contracting covid on 10 May. “There was never any room for a negative talk with him. We weren't allowed to be self-deprecating. His kindness made us want to be better. Write better," wrote his colleague, Ogilvy Group creative director Divya Bhatia on LinkedIn.

Nazim’s untimely death was mourned by many of his industry colleagues, whose lives he had touched. Communication professional & screenwriter, Prasoon Joshi tweeted, “He was a beautiful human being. His exceptional Penguin Audiobooks campaign will always resonate. Will miss you.”

Rajeev Karwal, 57 - Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions

Remembered as ‘Indian consumer goods industry's brightest star’, Karwal, 57 was known for his brand-building efforts at LG, ONIDA, Philips, and Electrolux. He was credited with LG Corp’s entry into India, while also bringing a paradigm shift to the way robotics is viewed in the country. Rajeev Karwal, the man behind the Made-in-India robots, entered the domestic robots market in 2012 through Milagrow Robotics- the human tech division of his self-founded company, Milagrow Business, and Knowledge Solutions.

Karwal’s robots were later deployed in COVID-19 wards of hospitals, as doctors and nurses were fearful of getting infected with the coronavirus. In his own words, unfortunately, it took a pandemic for the country to realize the potential of this industry. The company grew by 400 to 500 per cent during the lockdown. But in a cruel twist of fate, just when his ingenious products started to garner mass appeal, Karwal contracted the deadly virus, and on 12 May the Milagrow founder lost his battle to covid after being on ventilator support for almost a week. His attention to detail, his firm grip on data and trends, and his insight into Indian consumer behaviour made him the poster boy of the industry.

‘A dynamic leader, inspiration to many like me. Carried aura with humility, was flamboyant yet down to earth and ever-smiling. We have lost a visionary, mentor to many, and a strong leader.’ wrote a friend about him. "The fact that anyone and everyone who ever worked with Rajeev could turn to him for support speaks volumes of the human being Rajeev was", wrote another.  It is truly tragic that while Karwal’s robots are helping healthcare workers across the country win the battle against COVID-19, he succumbed to the virus.

Sunil Jain, 58 -  Financial Express 

Sunil Jain started his career as a financial journalist with the India Today magazine in 1991 and went on to become the business editor at The Indian Express. In 2013, he became the managing editor of The Financial Express. He was credited with managing the newspaper's circulation and readership in the competitive market. His column in the Financial Express, titled Rational Expectations focused on macroeconomic topics with a searingly honest outlook. Prior to Financial Express, Jain was a senior associate editor at Business Standard. The eminent business journalist was admitted to AIIMS on 3 May after testing positive for COVID-19. Jain passed away on 15 May. Considered one of the finest minds in Indian business journalism, fearless in his commentary, his sharp and incisive opinion pieces will forever be missed.

Today, as the world tries to heal and revive itself, learning and evolving as we go, the imprints left by these stalwarts on each life they touched has the latter eternally grateful for their distinguished service to humanity. As a famous song goes, “The song has ended, but the melody lingers on…”

[To Be Continued... ]

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