Express Group mourns death of veteran journalist Prabhash Joshi

Written by fe Bureaus | Updated: Nov 7 2009, 05:41am hrs
Prabhash Joshi, a veteran journalist, columnist and chief editorial adviser of Jansatta, The Indian Express Groups Hindi daily, died following a heart attack on Thursday night at the age of 72.

Joshi worked as the resident editor of The Indian Express in Chandigarh, Ahmedabad and Delhi before he became the editor of Jansatta, a post he held for 12 years. Joshi created a distinct and persuasive brand with Jansatta in Hindi journalism in 1983. His weekly column on Sunday, Kaagad Kare (literally meaning black and white), was eagerly lapped up as it spoke in a fresh and common idiom, contrary to the trends in Hindi popular writing in newspapers at the timehe wove colloquial Hindi from his hometown Indore in Madhya Pradesh with a great fluency in print. Kaagad Kares last edition talked about 25 years after Indira Gandhis assassination and her relevance today. Never scared of taking sides, his editorial, Hum Jaanenge , Hum Jeetenge in 1996 in Jansatta is still remembered by RTI activists as a landmark, as far as moulding public opinion goes.

Joshi wrote on a number of issues ranging from politics and literature to cricket. He was a sports enthusiast and devoted follower of cricket. Spectators in the Lords, London recall him distinctly in the pavilion at the MCC in his crisp, white dhoti and kurta, sitting through hours on end. He switched off the TV after Sachin Tendulkarhis favourite cricketer got out on Thursday night. Later in the night, he suffered a heart attack.

Im really shocked by his demiseHe was a keen follower of the game and his death has left a void. Right throughout, his words and opinions have always encouraged me, Sachin Tendulkar said.

The Express Group today mourns the passing of one its most distinguished editors. For the world of journalism, Prabhashjis passing is a great loss. He was a man who combined great erudition with a common touch. He was equally at ease interacting with readers as he was in a literary gathering or a political gathering. He worked with and inspired three generations of journalists. He started Jansatta and nurtured it for about three decades. For me, he was a father figure and this is a personal loss. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, said Viveck Goenka, chairman and managing director of the Express Group.

Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Group, said, For journalists of my generation, he was an inspirational figure. His belief in journalism of integirty and courage was firm. I owe him a personal debt of gratitude, having begun my journalistic career under his editorship at this newspapers Chandigarh edition in 1977. He not only had a strong views on issues ranging from politics, economics, media and, of course cricket, but also a rare talent to articulate them.

Among people who reached his Ghaziabad residence on Friday to pay tributes were Govindacharya, BJP leaders Rajnath Singh and Kalraj Mishra. We were in Varanasi together the day before yesterday. I asked him to take rest a bit as he was making rounds of various states. He said he had plans to work for three more years. I was amazed at his liveliness, said Govindacharya.

Joshi has led the struggle against repression of press freedom during the Emergency. He always believed that freedom of the press was not only for journalists and editors, but it was a right enjoyed by the citizen, said a press release issued by the Editors Guild.

Joshi was a bold crusader for ethics in the media and was doggedly committed to several grassroot campaigns, like the right to information in the early stages. He was also close to the Narmada Bachao Andolan.

His most recent petitions to the Press Council consisted of complaints of large sections of the media being complicit with political parties and making money during elections by publishing content, something which he linked to violating the spirit of information and duty towards the citizen which he saw as central to the purpose of journalism Joshi is survived by his wife Usha, daughter Sonal and sons Sandeep and Sopan. He will be cremated on the banks of Narmada at Badwah, about 50 km from Indore , on Saturday.