I don’t know where to begin. The pain is as sharp as losing a part of my body, the pain caused by the sad and sudden demise of veteran journalist Prabhash Joshi.
I remember, way back in 1983, when I was just a reporter, I saw the Hindi daily Jansatta at the Allahabad Railway Station and it was love at first sight for me. Jansatta was the first ever Hindi newspaper to have a wonderful balance between design and content, and its founding editor was Prabhashji. I was with Hindi daily Aj at that time. During those days I used to think that Hindi journalism was stuck in a rut and was being overwhelmed by television. Doordarshan was coming up in a big way, which was showing a new ‘Bharat’. On the contrary, Hindi newspapers were still living in their so-called ‘golden past’. Even the paper I was working with then, Aj, though it had good content, it sported a very non-appealing look. We, the youngsters, wanted to try out new things, however the editors then were happy in their safe havens.
It was in such times that Jansatta stood out like a shining beacon under the guidance and editorship of Prabhashji. It was the first modern newspaper which had balance, which had the courage to break all barriers, which was open to change, and which served as a platform for social activists – be it the people who worked there, or the paper’s readers, or journalists like me, who stood up for fair and balanced journalism. And it was this activist zeal that Jansatta arose in me that has stayed with me throughout my professional life. If I could make ‘Taaki sach zinda rahe’ (So that truth lives) as the concept for Amar Ujala, it is all thanks to Prabhashji.
Prabhashji was also a prolific writer, who often invited us to his book launches. He had the courage to break rules and always raised the bar for the rest of the journalist fraternity. He also wrote a lot on sports, especially his first love – cricket. In fact, he suffered a heart attack after watching the India-Australia Hyderabad ODI match. His doctors used to often advise him to slow down, but ‘jo ruk jaye, woh Prabhash Joshi nahin’. In the end, it was Prabhashji’s ‘dil’ that deceived him.
I dedicate this article to him, borrowing a headline from one of his old sports reports – ‘Azhar tera naam rahega’. Prabhashji, you had written this article after cricketer Azharuddin scored a triple century. Since then, you have written hundreds of articles to inspire many Shashi Shekhars. My deepest and sincere regards to you – the one and only Prabhash Joshi.
(Shashi Shekhar is Editor-in-Chief of Hindustan.)