The Indian Language Newspaper Association (ILNA) is taking various steps to bring forth the strength of the language newspapers in India. Sunil Dang, President, ILNA, informed that one of the first steps in this direction would be seen in a special annual general meeting that would commemorate the 60th year of Indian Independence on October 3. The theme of the session is ‘Language newspapers – roles and challenges’. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would be present on this occasion. The other government officials to be present are Information & Broadcasting Minister P R Dasmunsi, and Heavy Industry and PSUs Minister Santosh Mohan Deb.
Speaking on the thought process behind the event, Dang informed, “I believe that the language newspaper players at present don’t understand the strength and the depth of their medium. This medium gives them a village-to-village approach, and people anywhere are comfortable with their own language first. The big newspapers are not known five miles beyond any metros -- they don’t have the power and the pull that a language newspaper can exercise, and I think the industry should awake to that.”
One broad objective for the ILNA is to build language newspapers as a brand for the advertisers and the advertising agencies. Dang explained that the forthcoming steps from the ILNA would see the organisation educating language papers more on FDIs, modernisation of the domain, price mechanism --- points that he also sees as challenges before the newspapers.
ILNA would be honouring 15 icons in the language newspaper space at the AGM. Some of these include Jagran Prakashan, Malayala Manorama, Amar Ujala, Ajit, Gujarat Samachar, Lokmat, Punjab Kesari and others.
Dang said that one of the other aspects that needed to be brought to the government’s attention was the need to create a level playing field for the smaller language newspapers. He said, “The smaller newspapers print 8-12 pages and price it at Re 1, while at the same time, the reader also has the choice of 40 pages, all colour, also at the same price. The quality of content can be argued either ways, but shouldn’t there be some rules to follow on this? There are newspapers priced at Rs 15 as well in Pakistan!”
Dang explained that the intention was to suggest to the government to create a government body that could help the language newspaper industry in India. “And there is a need to do that as well. Sanskrit as a language is gone, Urdu and Punjabi are declining. Some steps have to be taken to protect Indian languages,” he argued.
Dang elaborated that language newspapers are independently very strong --- whether one looks at a Jagran or a Malayala Manorama --- but weaken when they are seen together as a medium, and that is the issue that ILNA would look at resolving in days to come.