One of the most desirable features of a great city is a voice of its own. A voice that not only speaks with but also on behalf of its people.
With voice, however, we do not necessarily mean talking about the much-documented idiosynchronisies of the place. That can be taken care by novelists and filmmakers. Why, we Amdavadis (or Gujaratis, for that matter), are already quite adequately represented by the ‘kanta ben’ type of jokes in Hindi cinema! And the fact that we take them well is our strength.
But, and coming back to the point, the voice of a city would be something that talks out about a unique – or at least an independent – perspective on larger issues of society – local, national and world – and life itself. A voice that is comprehensible and worth taking forward to different contexts.
Voice can be a decisive view on a subject or it can be a debate with umpteen conflicting views on the same subject. While the former is rare and probably undesirable, the latter is something that we should definitely aim at. In the absence of any of that presently, views on matters concerning Ahmedabad are framed by non-Amdavadis, based on their inadequate – and consequently inaccurate – understanding of the state of affairs here. But can we blame them for that? They have got a job to do and they are doing it within the elbow room that they get in today’s cut-throat world of news reporting. Imagine us reporting on some district of Karnataka. Ditto.
Now, name one media vehicle that the outside world can look forward for an Washington Post, New York Times and Boston Globe are three newspapers of USA that talk of almost all matters under Sun. And then also talk with and about those three incredibly important cities of that country. With it belonging to capital city, one expects and gets the most exhaustive (internal) political debates in Washington Post. New York Times gives often gives an alternated political view and also presents the beauty of a cosmopolitan city. The Boston Globe caters to the MIT-ians and other ‘evolved’ readers. The differences between the three newspapers is not only distinct but also exciting. They are like three different people. A bit like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapur and Dev Anand!
What have we got Ahmedabad? City supplements by Gujarati and English papers alike. Would that be enough for us to become and later recognised as a great city? No; not in this world anyway.
Ahmedabad has always been the fountainhead of Gujarati journalism. Adding to the advantage is the presence of media / communication schools in the city. Can’t the giants of Gujarati journalism and the go-getters of today’s English medium media schools join hands to launch a newspaper of Ahmedabad’s own? Can’t they have, for the sake of having a working title, The Amdavad Samachar, in English, for the global village?
It is not as improbably as it may seem in the beginning. To begin with, we are not suggesting a multi-million-dollar marketing blitzkrieg to go with the launch. Sandesh had started with a single-page spreadsheet. The Amdavad Samachar can start with four pages. Four pages of debates. A big brand like Reliance retail can be the ‘anchor sponsor’ of the venture – without, and this is of paramount importance, any say in the editorial.
Apart from other advantages, The Amdavad Samachar can help bind the city’s ‘action-oriented thinking class’ together; can provide easy secondary source of information about the city to other national and international media and keep a watch on the city representatives like corporators and MLAs.
Sandesh has come a long way since its one-page debut and is a partner of The Times of India. There is no reason why our proposed paper can not, at least, be self-sufficient source of class, information, education, entertainment and joy for the seventh biggest city of India.