Varinder Walia has been made the Editor of Punjabi Tribune, the language publication from Tribune Trust. He takes charge from August 15. Walia, who has been Special Correspondent in Amritsar for The Tribune, replaces Sidhu Damdami, the outgoing Editor who completed his three-year term with the daily on July 31.
HK Dua, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Tribune Group, told exchange4media, “The contract for the incumbent Editor had ended, so filling up the position was inevitable. We interviewed a few in-house candidates and then we zeroed in on Walia. He knows Punjabi culture and tradition very well, besides the political, economic and social trends in this part of the country.”
On his new role, Walia told exchange4media, “It’s a privilege to serve the Punjabi daily. The date chosen to start the journey ahead is significant for me from two aspects – one, that it is India’s Independence Day, and secondly, both Punjabi Tribune and Hindi Tribune were launched on August 15, 1978.”
He continued, “The challenge is to increase the circulation of Punjabi Tribune beyond one lakh. There is a big scope for the market and we are witnessing tremendous growth.”
Though Walia has been reporting for the English daily, but it was his penchant for Punjabi literature and writing that led to his selection as Editor of Punjabi Tribune. He headlonged into English media after having edited several Punjabi publications before. He took to writing very early in his pursuits to contribute to Punjabi literature. After completing his graduation, Walia started editing a magazine called ‘Pulang’ (meaning ‘Step’). The subsequent years saw him joining as Editor of two magazines in succession. In 1986, Walia decided to serve the State Government as Information Officer, where he also edited their magazine ‘Advance’. Three years later, he became District Public Relations Officer for Faridkot and Bhatinda districts in Punjab. It was in 1992 that Walia’s tryst with English media took place when he joined The Tribune in Bhatinda as a staff reporter.
Walia has also authored two books of short stories in Punjabi – ‘Khabarnama’ in 1983 and ‘Rukhan Di Dastan’ (meaning ‘Tale of Trees’) in 2007. Walia wrote ‘Khabarnama’ while still a student at the University.
Punjabi Tribune is currently published from Bhatinda, Jalandhar, Chandigarh and Delhi. The Tribune has nine editions – Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Bathinda, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and NCR, and Dehradun. The publication also brings out a student edition on five days of the week. According to Rajeshwar Chopra, AGM, Circulation and Marketing, Tribune, the circulation of The Tribune, the number one English daily in Punjab, stood at 295,000.
The Tribune started its publications way back on February 2, 1881, in Lahore (now in Pakistan). It was started by Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia, a public-spirited philanthropist, and is run by a trust comprising five eminent persons as trustees.
The other leading Punjabi dailies include Daily Ajit and Sky Hawk Times, Rustam (a daily) and Rozana (a fortnightly). Besides these, there are several newspapers outside India, particularly in countries like the UK and the US, where there is a large Punjabi Diaspora. Some of these include Punjab Mail, 5abnews, Pardes Times, and Punjab Times, among others.
Looking at the growing section of Punjabi readers, India Today some time back launched a weekly, ‘Simply Punjabi’, to serve the dedicated Punjabi readers. The Internet space also abounds with news sites in Punjabi.