Washington, DC – Close friends and colleagues gathered at the prestigious Holeman Lounge at the National Press Club to honor the memory of Tejinder. Here are some highlights from that day.
Lisa Matthews, President, National Press Club: I’m proud to be here to say a few words on behalf of the club that he loved so much, and I think we all loved him back. He was an important part of our community, and the club was an important part of Tejinder’s professional and social community in DC. Most weekends before the pandemic, you could find Tejinder at the club. What the club got from Tejinder was much, much more. He brought a unique and informed perspective on issues of US policy. He liked to know how South East Asia would be affected by US policy, and actions. When it came to foreign relations, I would say he was the most informed voice in all the briefing rooms.
Mesfin Mekonen, Manager, Reliable Source Bar and Restaurant: Tejinder Singh was a friend. A friend of journalism, a friend of the Press Club, and a friend to me. Tejinder brought India and America closer, using journalism to close the gap between two nations and to shine a spotlight on the human traits and ideals that bind us all together. He founded India America Today so everyone else could see what he saw when he viewed Indian Americans, and to use the media to help solve the problems of his community. He will be remembered and hopefully will serve as an inspiration for journalists everywhere.
Paris Huang, White House Correspondent, Voice of America Chinese Service: The first time I met him was in 2017 in the White House briefing room. One day I happened to stand right next to Tejinder and we started to talk. He made me feel relaxed. He always had a smile. He was always very relaxed, a very friendly person. So while we would be waiting for the briefing, always delayed, reporters would always stand there and chat. And we had very nice conversations, and he said you know what, you should just call me Teji. During the pandemic, we’ve seen many Asian Americans being attacked, including me. Teji when he heard about what happened to me, he reached out to me. He was asking are you ok. I’m so sorry this happened to you. We had a good chat, and later he put my story in India America Today. I was touched.
Lalit Jha, Chief US Correspondent, Press Trust of India: The name Tejinder itself means fast and furious. He was fast. He sensed the news really fast. He had a great sense of news. He was furious whenever he saw injustice being done. He raised important questions at the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.
Marie Harf, former State Department Deputy Spokesperson: I can close my eyes and still see him walking into the briefing room, with his trademark sunglasses perched up on top of his head, smiling, but ready with tough questions about whatever the news of the day was. I came into that job pretty young, and probably a bit over my head. And I wasn’t sure what to make of this new press corps that I was suddenly confronted with. But what became clear pretty quickly, was that Tejinder was one of the good ones. It turns out that you can ask tough questions and also be nice. He didn’t treat the reporter- government spokesperson relationship as merely transactional like many other journalists do. One of things I will remember most about Tejinder is how he met and befriended my parents when they were visiting me in Washington, and then kept in touch with them on facebook much to their delight. And after 15 years in this town it is rare to meet someone who is so unfailingly nice. We honor them in how we live our lives, and work to live up to the example that they set for us. That’s what I’m going to do to honor Tejinder. Being kind, like he was. Ask the good questions, tough questions, but nicely. And take care of one another.
Ravi Batra, Chairman, National Advisory Council on South Asian Affairs: That Tejinder was a firebrand of a journalist is visible from his long public record of service as Editor-in-Chief of India America Today. He was a John Wayne kind of reporter, with true grit. He was a proud and active member of the National Press Club. That we are here today paying tribute to Tejinder Singh in the National Press Club, the Cathedral for Free Press, with President Lisa Matthews participating, along with Mesfin Mekonen, Paris Huang, Lalit Jha, my “better half” – a term Tejinder enjoyed using often – Ranju, the ever graceful Marie Harf, A/S Nisha Biswal, and each of you, including, as a matter of personal privilege, our miracle daughter Angela – a bond Tejinder rejoiced and celebrated – speaks volumes both of how vital Press Freedoms are to Lincoln’s Gettysburg recipe for democracy, and Tejinder Singh’s dedication to journalism and to help form a more perfect nation, and world.
Ranju Batra, Chairperson, Diwali Foundation USA: We are all here to give tribute to a dear friend and a great journalist. I’m glad we could all come together to celebrate his life. I want to share with you how Tejinder Singh supported me as editor of India America Today.
Today, nearly 5 years after successfully completing my 7-years long personal journey to get the US Postal Service to issue a Diwali Stamp in 2016, it’s easy to forget that the dream to get one was nearly impossible. Tejinder Singh – a Greek Orthodox Christian- encouraged me as a brother, and was constantly caring, kind and supportive when my dream seemed impossible.
When the USPS finally agreed to issue the Diwali Stamp, Tejinder was so excited and he came up to New York for the Dedication of the immortal Forever Diwali Stamp on October 5th, 2016.
Two months later, when 24 nations at the UN honored my journey, Tejinder Singh was there. When out of that UN event, based upon remarks made by a Deputy Foreign Minister, the Diwali Foundation USA was formed in 2017 and it bestows the “Power of One” Awards for exceptional world class diplomats that honor the ideals of the U.N. Charter enhancing peace & security. And Tejinder Singh was there. Today, we are in Washington D.C., home of Tejinder Singh’s India America Today in the National Press Club, to pay tribute to him, and his life as a journalist, for he helped make dreams come true. He supported and contributed to causes, with joy and passion. With deep sadness I say We will all miss him.
Nisha Biswal, former State Department Assistant Secretary of State: I just wanted to acknowledge what an appropriate place this is to honor Tejinder. This was the last place that I saw him. We had gathered here for lunch. I have always had such wonderful conversations with him. When you are Assistant Secretary you are very guarded with members of the press. And yet there were a couple of them with whom you could have an unguarded conversation. Tejinder was one. You knew that though the questions would be incisive, the treatment would be fair. And that you could have a reflective conversation about the world, its challenges, and know that it would be taken in context. And that was what made me admire and really form a bond with Tejinder.