Nowhere close to being a sadhvi: Manisha Koirala

Nowhere close to being a sadhvi: Manisha Koirala

It is only because of his ideological commitment that Pankaj Bisht has been bringing out the monthly Samyantar for more than 15 years now. The circulation of the publication is between 4,000-5,000 copies, but it doesn’t bother him much. If the numbers had mattered, he would have compromised with the content and made Samyantar a totally commercial magazine, something that Bisht never wanted to do.

“Apart from the commercial Hindi magazine, there is another type of magazine that highlights the social economic and political condition of country, focuses on the arts and culture and keeps literature as its base. Today, there is hardly any Hindi magazine that connects cultural, social and political aspects of a society with literature,” Bisht
tells Metrolife.

And yet there was a time when magazines like Pahal, Hans, Tadbhav, Karyadesh and Pakhi were popular among masses, especially in north India. “Samyantar is a progressive magazine that promotes secular ideas. Writings in Hindi on social subjects are very rare and majority of work is in translation. Even Hindi writers don’t get a platform,” rues Bisht, who has put up a stall at the World Book Fair, Pragati Maidan.

Samyantar was very popular at the time of Emergency in 1977. “It was suffocating for people at that time. So we gave journalists, writers and academicians a platform to express their views,” he says.

With passing years, political Hindi magazines failed to establish themselves. “Though the Hindi belt is vast, people there are not literate and most are economically backward. Also, due to political turmoil, the resources could not be channelised in a proper way. It is for this reason serious writing could not get a space. Amidst this, television, electronic media also emerged serving everything on a platter. Those who could have started reading, also took the easy television way to news and information,” he says.

Meanwhile, ‘English also become a major roadblock’, says Bisht. “There is a myth that people cannot achieve success if they don’t know English. Hindi should have reached the middle class but it was English that took over its place. There was a time when Hindi magazine Dharmyug had a circulation of more than four lakh in the North Indian belt,” Bisht recalls.

Another Hindi magazine Filhal, published from Patna since 1970,  which became popular in Naxal controlled areas. “Filhal is not a literary magazine. It focuses on the political, economic and cultural issues,” says Rakesh Ranjan, faculty, Economic department, Shri Ram College of Commerce has been writing for it.

“The  aim was to highlight the agrarian crises and Naxalite movement in the region. But it couldn’t run for long and was again started in 1995. The issues addressed in the magazine are anti-communal, anti-fascist and present day Hindu fascist uprising. We focus on everything that is extensively political. Therefore, we work on ground reporting and analytical writings. For this we have a network of intellectuals who work together,” Ranjan tells Metrolife.

Today, there is only a section of people, like social workers, academicians and students, who reads this magazine. “In Hindi, there is hardly any magazine which carries original writings on economic policy,” says Ranjan. Marginalisation of Hindi in institutions is responsible for it,” he says.

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