There are journals in India we do not see and even more seldom hear of. And they are worth their price. How many readers, for instance, have heard of The Other Side, the chairman of whose Editorial Board is George Fernandes? In its earlier avatara it had gone out of circulation twice, but now it has been resurrected and is eminently readable. Its vision is clearly stated. The Other Side, it states, ?is concerned with, and in part of, people'sstruggle in India and elsewhere, to create a word free from exploitation, tyranny and war?. And it added: ?At the same time, it is involved in the search for new ideas to illumine humanity'spath towards a more purposeful and rewarding life.? Noble intentions. The paper'seditor is Jaya Jaitley, and under her editorship, the journal'svision is fully reflected. With George Fernandes at the helm, it is fair to expect some hard-hitting articles. The February 2008 issue carries a letter addressed to ?Mr Q? (do we have to explain who this Mr Q is?) which is hard-hitting, as it is brilliant, and, yes hilarious, written by Jaya Jaitley. The magazine is richly recommended, to all those interested in contemporary affairs, even though it costs Rs 25.
Radio Duniya is India'sfirst radio monthly. Years ago, especially in the forties of the 20th century, All India Radio used to bring out a journal appropriately called Akashvani, which was very popular. It was poorly produced by today'sstandards, but it was rich in content, because it published talks given by prominent citizens on All India Radio like Sir C.V. Raman. The only magazine of its kind then produced, it had avid readers. One wishes it was revived. Radio Duniya, a monthly, has so far brought out claiming five issues and is clamining to be popular, but it has a long way to go considering that there has been a spurt in the growth of private radio channels, thanks to the government'sdecision to allow private players to set up and operate radio broadcasting states across the country by way of community service. It is claimed that in another decade or so, there could be some 800 FM radio stations in operation throughout India, strictly for servicing communities within a radius of, say, 15 miles. They can easily marginalise AIR and make it irrelevant. As a matter of fact, Radio Duniya had organised a two-day conference on the February 11th and 12th of 2008 to discuss such issues as the extent to which FM stations can broadcast national and international news, sell air space, etc.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry is evidently considering whether to let FM stations broadcast news related to sports, theatre and culture. And then there is The Sunday Indian which modestly calls itself ?the nation'sgreatest news weekly?, though not without credibility. It is significant that it costs only ten rupees. And for ten rupees it is a bargain. The contents are eclectic, the get-up attractive and the contents educative and what is more, challenging. The editorial written by editor-in-chief Arindam Chaudhuri is, to say the least, provocative. Smt Sonia Gandhi, Dr Manmohan Singh and more especially Shri P. Chidambaram must read it carefully, line by line. Shri Chaudhuri calls Shri Chidambaram ?casual? and worse still ?callous? ?doling out favours after favours with the least respect for citizen'smoney?.
The budget analysis is incisive and unanswerable. ?All in all,? writes Shri Chaudhuri, ?with disproportionate and undue privilege to the already privileged, and that too, with the sole objective of gaining political mileage, the Union Budget 2008-2009 would go down in the pages of history as the most dehumanising budget delivered!? And how right he is. Shri Chaudhuri does not say it, but it is an example of wholesale bribery the like of which has never before been witnessed in the history of independent India. It is claimed that the budget was conceived to please Shri Sonia Gandhi who has been rightly described as ?Italy'smost successive politician?. Italy'smind, not India'sand it is the most powerful damnation of the Congress. It is a reflection of what foreign journals think of the Congress Party and its president who has stayed in power for ten long years without being challenged.
The range of small magazines now available is truly unbelievable. There is a magazine called Issues & Concern published from a suburb of Mangalore which deals with subjects of concern to the public and is in a class by itself. Issues & Concerns is a one-man show and has been brought out for some ten years now, without missing a single issue and that itself is an achievement. A similar magazine is Aseema, another top-class magazine, which has some distinguished contributors, like M.J. Akbar. Down to Earth is a Science and Environment fortnightly (Rs 20) and concerns itself strictly with those issues in a thoroughly professional manner. Pitch (Rs 30) is an advertising, marketing and media review, but what is pertinent about all these little-heard of journals is that they are dedicated, persuasive and determined to push their values and vision through. By any reckoning they are remarkable like One India One People, the product of the late Sadanand Shetty, a businessman with a vision for a united India and is solely concerned with the unity and integrity of India at any cost. One doesn'tsee them displayed in bookstalls; magazine vendors do not thrust them through car windows when vehicles stop at traffic signals, but somehow they seem to survive.
What is to be admired is the dedication and dictation of their publishers who often act as editors as well. The unique selling point of these journals like Harmony?another specialist magazine financed obviously by the Ambanis?is that they deal with subjects that are seldom dealt with by regular journals. They obviously do not aim at high circulation, considering that advertisement is often meager, if not non-existent, but they obviously fulfil a need and have their own devoted readers. They are a far cry from the likes of Outlook, India Today or The Week, which are prosperous, boast of a large circulation and sustaining readership. And now we hear that the son of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Rajsekhara Reddy'sson Jagmohan has launched a new Telugu daily with no less than 23 editions selling at Rs 60 a month. Called Saakshi?an apt name?it has apparently already created a sensation in Andhra Pradesh'snewspaper world. India is undoubtedly moving.