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Farewells in 2011

The reel of every passing year brings with a potpourri of joyous and aggrieved moments, convivial births and deaths. This year in particular witnessed some historic deaths; the most shocking ones being that of Osama Bin Laden and Mohammed Gaddafi, but especially of iconic figures whose impact of society and culture have been humungous. Let us take a moment here and remember the fond farewells that we bade in the year 2011.

Steve Jobs
Known for his showmanship in what is otherwise considered a geeky profession, Steve Jobs in his iconic turtle neck, jeans and sneakers took the world of technology by storm with Apple Mac and Lisa. Even when he was dethroned from his own company, Jobs moved to bring about another revolution in the world of animation with Pixar. When Apple roped him back, Jobs pioneered the ipod and the incredible radical consumer product the iPhone which soon evolved into the ipad. This legendary genius breathed his last on October 5, 2011, after battling for long with a rare form of pancreatic cancer.

Bhupen Hazarika
The Bard of Brahmaputra, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika placed Assam on the global cultural radar when he represented India in Berlin at the World Conference of Composers. His efforts towards integrating the Northeast with the rest of India, expressing political views with music, and using the platform of music as a ballista for social change are simply overwhelming. The people of Assam will remain ever grateful to him for carving a niche for Assam as a musically and culturally affluent land. When Dr. Hazarika passed away on 5 November 2011 an estimated half a million mourners arrived to pay their homage to this legend, which surpassed the number of mourners in Michael Jackson’s funeral.

Elizabeth Taylor
Multiple Academy Award winning screen Goddess of yesteryears and known for unforgettable portrayal of characters like Cleopatra, Elizabeth Taylor will always be remembered as a timeless beauty. Apart from the stardom, the legendary actress fondly known as Liz Taylor is also known for her activism and charitable foundation supporting AIDS and HIV positive victims. After suffering from many years of poor health Taylor died of congestive heart failure on 23 March 2011 at the age of 79.

M F Hussain
A contemporary artist from India, who rose to worldwide fame and controversy, Maqbool Fida Husain is another noted figure in the world of culture to have left this world this year. Often criticized for alleged misinterpretation of Hindu deities, M F Hussain left India in 2006. He also took a shot at Film Making and being the controversy’s child that he was, Hussain received a mixed bag of reviews for his work. His colorful personality and expressed fondness for a myriad of Bollywood actresses occasionally got his name printed on Page 3. M F Husain died, aged 95, on 9 June 2011, following a heart attack.

Dennis Ritche
Another mighty pioneer in the world of computers, Dennis Ritche helped shape the digital era and is was best known as the creator of the C programming language, a key developer of the Unix operating system, and co-author of The C Programming Language. In 1990, both Ritchie along with Ken Thompson received the IEEE Richard W. Hamming Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), "for the origination of the UNIX operating system and the C programming language". Ritchie was found dead on 12 October, 2011, at the age of 70 at his home in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. 

Computer historian Paul E. Ceruzzi had quoted: "Ritchie was under the radar. His name was not a household name at all, but... if you had a microscope and could look in a computer, you'd see his work everywhere inside".

Amy Winehouse
While most vocalists of her age and time engaged in creating peppy muzak, Amy Winehouse’s foray into fame came from her multifarious mix of RnB, Soul and Jazz, her distinctive style, and her powerful contralto vocals. However like most extremely talented musicians with the passage of time, her controversial battle with drugs, alcohol and various health problems took over her and she became a victim of her own demons. Winehouse died of an overdose on 23 July, 2011. Her musical career might indeed have been brief, but it was a reflection of pure talent, musical knowledge and a captivating personality.

Shammi Kapoor
Known as Elvis Presley of India for his western looks and bouncy dance moves, Shammi Kapoor remained a prominent romantic lead in Hindi cinema from the late 1950s until the early 1970s. Not many are aware but Shammi Kapoor was the founder and chairman of Internet Users Community of India (IUCI). He had also played a major role in setting up internet organisations like the Ethical Hackers Association. Kapoor maintained a website dedicated to the 'Kapoor family’. He died on 14 August, 2011, from chronic renal failure. Shammi Kapoor will be fondly remembered for his vitality and charm and for bringing many characters to life and making them memorable.

M. A. K. Pataudi
Fondly known as Tiger Pataudi, ex Indian cricketer and former captain of the Indian cricket team was as the ninth Nawab of Pataudi until 1971, when India abolished royal entitlements through the 26th Amendment to the Constitution of India. He was an Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year in 1962, and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1968. Tiger Pataudi breathed his last on 23 September 2011. His funeral was attended by myraid of film actors, directors and producers, as well as cricketing fraternity.

Jagjit Singh
Revered as one of the finest vocalists and a Ghazal maestro, Jagjit Singh was touted for contemporizing Ghazals with his melodic baritone voice and the infusion of western instruments in the genre. His silky voice ruled during early 80's in films like Prem Geet, Saath Saath and Arth. Singh crooned his last film song for Ashish Ubale's upcoming film Anandache Dohi. 

Jagjit Singh was the recipient of many prestigious awards including the 'Padma Bhushan', one of India's highest civilian honors by the Government of India. Singh’s career touched meticulous heights in the 70s and 80s and he came to be known as ‘The Ghazal King’ among music lovers. His collaboration with better half, ghazal singer Chitra Singh established them as the first ever successful duo-act (husband-wife) in the history of recorded Indian music. He died on October 10, 2011 at the age of 70 in Mumbai at Lilavati hospital, after suffering from a brain hemorrhage.

Kim Jong il
The supreme leader of North Korea (DPRK) from 1994 to 2011 Kim Jong-il was the General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, and the supreme commander of the Korean People's Army, the fourth-largest standing army in the world. In April 2009, North Korea's constitution was amended to refer to him implicitly as the "supreme leader". Among other titles e was also referred to as the "Dear Leader", "our Father", "the General", and "Generalissimo”. There are many mystical legends attached to his birth and lifetime.
Kim Jong-il died of a suspected heart attack on 17 December 2011.

- by Parmita Borah


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