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Chand Joshi: A Promise Unfulfilled

Chand Joshi is perhaps best known for his book Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality.

The Tribune, Feb. 5, 2000

What dampened my Republic Day spirit was the cremation of an erstwhile colleague and friend, Chand Joshi, who died the day before at the age of 53. To be honest, I was more enamoured by his young, lovely wife Manini Chatterjee who achieved a lot more than her husband. Chand frittered away his talent in trade union activity and heavy drinking. Both husband and wife were committed Communists. He inherited it from his parents: his father was P.C. Joshi, secretary of the Communist Party, his mother Kalpana Dutt was involved in the Chittagong Armoury Raid (1930). It was not he but Manini who wrote a definitive book on the subject Do and Die (Penguin).

Chand Joshi joined The Hindustan Times 10 years before I took over as its editor. He had made a name for himself reporting the Bangladesh War of Liberation. I found him a most likeable fellow with undoubted talent for writing. But he immersed himself in organising workers of the union rather than working for the paper. On a number of occasions he talked me into sending him on assignments in distant parts of the country. He would be away for weeks with nothing much to give except bills of his travel expenses, usually without vouchers to support them. He spent his afternoons and evenings drinking him in five-star hotels. I despaired of him but could do nothing about it.

Heavy drinking took toll of his liver. His doctor told him bluntly that if he did not give up alcohol he would die within a few months. He became a teetotaller. For some time he turned to religion, every evening he sat cross-legged on the floor and chanted Sanskrit shlokas to the idol of Goddess Kali. It did not last long. He went back to the bottle and, as predicted by his doctor, died of cirrhosis of the liver. It is sad that a man of so much promise and guts should have gone so early without fulfilling his life's ambition of being a great editor of a national paper.