In Memoriam

Shashi Baliga: A Life Well Lived

April 6, 1953 – May 2, 2021

Shashi always complained about the traffic, pollution, and garbage in Mumbai. God eventually resigned himself to the fact that these problems are insurmountable, even for the Almighty. So, he found another way to make her wish come true and took her away to a better place. It has been painful beyond measure for her loved ones, but we take solace in the fact that she is reunited in heaven with her beloved father who always encouraged her to pursue her dreams. And she did just that, in spectacular fashion — with a passion and drive that remained undiminished to her last day.

She didn’t know how to take no for an answer. Her life reflected purpose, the art of the possible, learning agility, and a growth mindset long before these became corporate buzzwords. A young girl from Chennai breaking into the world of Mumbai journalism, enduring a daily 4-hour commute, taking a year-long break to raise her daughter, then returning to the workforce and rising to the top of her profession
with the best names on her resume — across newspapers, magazines, books, and electronic media. And then unstoppable continuing to build an enviable legacy through her leadership of the Tata Literature Live! Mumbai LitFest and as a professor of journalism at the Xavier’s Institute of Communications and St. Paul’s Institute of Communications Education in Mumbai.

She could have been a celebrated business speaker or TED Talker — if she didn’t have such utter disdain for most things ‘corporate’ (except some of the jargon which delighted her). And still, she was so much more – a lover of art, an avid reader, a traveler full of wonder, a diligent
gardener, a skilled dressmaker and embroiderer, a robust debater, a tree-walker, a fabulous if hesitant cook, a devoted wife, and the warmest, most wonderful mother.

Sashi Baliga
The outpouring of love for her has taken even her closest ones by surprise. At St Pauls, however, there has been no surprise. I am told she lit up the corridors with her presence, her smile and her warmth. The Alumni group is awash in grief. And disbelief. She was associated with the Institution practically from its beginning. Every tribute only amplifies the magnitude of this loss. Her profound, often transformative, impact on the people who came into her life is evident through the messages from friends, colleagues, and students on her Facebook page and on Twitter (search for Shashi Baliga).

One of our friends lit a candle in her garden that morning in her memory. She tells us it burned through
the evening despite the wind. As in her life, Shashi burns bright in her afterlife.
A loving tribute from her friends, colleagues, and daughter, Shreya.
Mumbai, May 3, 2021

 

This article is written by Shreya Baliga

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