Sitting at my table and looking at the pile of papers and magazines in front of me, I feel truly like an ignoramus. There is so much to learn and there is so little time. Forget the fact that India has more than 35,595 newspapers (I get my facts from Wikipedia) and over 690 satellite channels (of which some eighty deal with news) and one learns that India happens to be the biggest newspaper market in the world with over 100 million copies sold each day. I have no idea how many books are sold and by how many booksellers round the country nor am I aware of how many films are made and how many dramas are acted, but I understand there are over 350 weeklies and journals which maybe an under-evaluation. Among them are journals covering a wide range of subjects like science, technology, medicine, sports, politics, social events, history, philosophy, literatures – the list is endless – and so it seems are the number of journals.
We have the standard English Weeklies like India Today, Outlook, Frontline, Tehelka not to mention the one and only Economic & Political Weekly, all highly in demand. But there are a series of journals enjoying high respect in intellectual circles that are seldom noticed and to me they mean a lot like Freedom First, The Radical Humanist, Issues & Concerns, One India One People, Bharatiya Pragna, Hindu Vision, Aseema, Jan Sangh Today, not to speak of New Swatantra Times, Bhavan’s Journal and Mangalore Today, and I would not know what I would do without them. I am deeply conscious that there are other journals, too that I receive periodically like college magazines and can one ever forget journals associated with the world of women – Femina – and films?
No two journals are happly alike and they bring a wealth of information, knowledge and intellectual content to make reading them sheer joy. Some of them, of course, are branded and are the product of established publishing houses like Bennett, Coleman & Co. Some are the efforts to popularise issues and ideas like Radical Humanist which is the monthly journal of the Indian Renaissance Institute. Some of them like One India One People are supported by highly socially conscious business houses like Fouress Corporation and are incomparable. At least one of them like Issues & Concerns is a one-man show, brilliant, though-provoking and highly original in thought and content.
Hindu Vision, which is a class in itself, is a thin 16 pages quarter size journal published by the Vishwa Samvad Kendra but for that reason not to be taken lightly. It seeks to present a Hindu point of view on many social and political issues with great understanding and scholarship. Or take a monthly journal which was recently started and guided by my late friend. PK Ravindranath like Kerala in Mumbai, an intriguing title, and which claims to be the only English/Malayalam magazine linking Mumbai Malayalees. Few realise the tremendous contribution made by Malayalees to the growth and sustenance of Mumbai.
How one wishes there were similar magazines exploring what contribution was made similarly by Kannadigas, Gujaratis, Tamilians, Andhraites, Bengalis, Punjabis and Biharis to the glory and greatness of Mumbai. Mumbai is a multi-cultural , multi-ethnic city and the services rendered by every community needs to be recognised. Bhavan’s Journal is a publication of the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and is now an unbelievable sixty years old and still going strong.
Aseema – Transcending Boundaries, as it summaries its aims and objects, has recently re-invented itself and comes out as an extremely readable monthly published by the Jana Bharathi Prakashan and one is reminded by it of the old and most highly popular magazine of another day and time, The Illustrated Weekly of India, though not size-wise.
In today’s world of Indian journalism we have enough magazines to cater to public needs. But sadly there are no good magazines for children and school-going boys and girls.