Well known Pune journalist Joseph Pinto who passed away last week at the age of 72 was firmly committed to the idea of India as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation and always supported the cause of social harmony. As a journalist, he took special interest in teaching journalism and the craft of editing in the various institutes in Pune.
By Abhay Vaidya
Pune, 1st August 2023: Pune’s first English language daily Poona Herald which later became Maharashtra Herald was a newspaper where many journalists and writers cut their teeth. Abel David was the Founder-Editor of this paper which was later edited by S.D. Wagh. The names of eminent writers/journalists Farrukh Dhondy and Dileep Padgaonkar who wrote for this paper in their student years come instantly to mind.
Joseph Melville Pinto (5 March 1951 – 29 July 2023), who went on to become the Editor of Maharashtra Herald was one of the finest copy editors in the world of journalism. Had he wanted, he too, could have worked for national and international publications, like his peers, solely on the strength of his own merit. He could have easily walked across to The Times of India where Pradeep Guha, President of Bennett Coleman & Company (which ran the TOI) had transformed that publication into a money-spinner and was a personal friend of Joe. During their student days at the St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Joe and Pradeep were part of a group of friends who had gone to the perennially drought-prone Ahmednagar district to do social work as a part of their resistance against the Emergency.
But Joe was cast in a different mold. He worked with various mass organisations, including Lok Vidnyan Sanghatana during 1973-82 to help alleviate agrarian crisis, take adult literacy classes and promote scientific temper among the masses. He entered journalism in 1983 and remained loyal to Maharashtra Herald throughout his life.
A rationalist to the core, he was stubbornly committed to his principles, values and ethics and worked tirelessly for a small city newspaper that focused on community issues and which tried to withstand the onslaught of the big newspapers.
Joe was firmly committed to the idea of India as a multi-religious, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation and always supported the cause of social harmony. As a journalist, he took special interest in teaching journalism and editing in the various institutes in Pune. In his later years, he stopped teaching in the institutes due to health issues but continued to take weekly classes online and offline in a classroom at Aksharnandan School off Senapati Bapat Road. Joe always encouraged and inspired students from the Marathi medium who wanted to write in English.
He was a doting father and a grandfather and his life revolved around his family, his grandson Aryan, his friends and his students.
In recent months, we spoke often and met almost every fortnight and shared our thoughts on journalism, writing and contemporary subjects. ‘The Elements of Style’ the classic on the craft of editing by Strunk and White and William Zinsser’s ‘On Writing Well’ were books that he strongly recommended to his students.
Joe’s advice was simple: write from the heart, use simple, easy to understand words and edit out words that are unnecessary.
Standing by his side like a rock was his wife Prof Kalpana Joshi, whom he had met during their activism days at Lok Vidnyan Sanghatana.
Undoubtedly, Joe has helped make this world a better place with his life and his work. Our loved ones stay with us forever in our hearts, and so is it with Joe. Be at peace, brother, and thank you for everything!
(Abhay Vaidya is a senior journalist and works with a think tank in Pune. He tweets at: @abhay_vaidya )