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‘Mumbai Samachar’, where Mahatma Gandhi-Nehru came for chai-chat, turns 200

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Mumbai-Samachar

Asia’s oldest existing newspaper – “Mumbai Samachar” – where once Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel used to drop in for tea and a chat, entered the 200th year of publication on Thursday.

It was started as a small bunch of pamphlets on July 1, 1822, by Parsi priest-cum-scholar, Fardunjee Murazban – considered the prioneer of Gujarati journalism – through the first Indian printing press which he launched in 1812.

Initially, Murazban brought out a Gujarati calendar in 1814 before jumping into media journalism in 1822 with the “Mumbai Samachar, 14-pages on three small quarto sheets and a half-sheet supplement in a 10 by 8 inch format.

While the first Asian newspaper was “Hicky’s Bengal Gazette” or the Original Calcutta General Advertiser, which came out from 1780, it folded up in 1782. “Samachar Darpan” the country’s first non-English newspaper, was published from May 23, 1818 from Hooghly, followed by the “Mumbai Samachar”.

“It catered to the thriving business community of the city and provided business-related news, death announcements, and especially shipping time-tables as all trade was conducted through the Bombay port,” its present-day owner-Director Hormusji N. Cama, told IANS in a free-wheeling chat.

A weekly till 1832, a bi-weekly till 1855, and then on to a full-fledged daily, the newspaper became a darling of the Gujarati community comprising Parsis, Hindus, Jain, Dawoodi Bohras, Khojas, Memons, et al.

Over the years, while faithfully catering to the business community, “Mumbai Samachar” witnessed history as the Seven Isles known as Bombay transformed into Mumbai, the country’s financial-glamour power capital.

The Camas, who acquired it in 1933, continued the paper’s strongly “nationalistic” editorial policies which endeared itself to the stalwarts of the freedom movement.

“Gandhiji, Nehru and Patel were frequent visitors to my grandfather, Mancherji Cama, to discuss politics over tea,” said Cama, who is now managing the newspaper with his two brothers – Mancherji and Merwanji.

With a daily circulation of barely 15,000 copies in the 1930s, now it sells at least 10-times more, and held a total monopoly in the Mumbai Gujarati daily newspaper segment till the 1990s when its first competitor entered Mumbai.

There was also the “Bombay Chronicle” started by another luminary, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta in 1910, but after the Camas took it over, they shut it down in 1959 to concentrate only on “Mumbai Samachar”.

Interestingly, after Asia’s first bourse, the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) started in 1875, the “Mumbai Samachar” would provide well-researched daily reports on the ups-and-downs right till the 1990s which were eagerly lapped up by the investor community.

“With the advent of the Internet-era, we toned down the stock market coverage However, the BSE authorities publicly objected and we reverted to it for a few years But, as things became quicker due to technology, we now offer detailed analyses,” Hormusji Cama told IANS.

As in the past, the Camas ensured the newspaper avoided controversies, never targeted people, communities or politicians unnecessarily as it wanted “the readers to feel good in the morning” instead of getting depressed with negative news.

There was a time when the newspaper would carry many top news a day or two later, since, as Cama explained: “We would verify all news, even from the newswire agencies and the tradition continues though selectively.”

Surviving for nearly 18 decades without its own set of correspondents, barely in the past 20 years, the newspaper started hiring its own reporters, columnists, expert commentators.

It even appointed the first-ever woman editor for a Gujarati daily, Pinki Dalal, and has a modern bustling newsroom in the ‘Red House’ – its imposing headquarters near Horniman Circle, which was a landmark well-known as the Red Fort or the White House for old Mumbaikars.

The staffers enjoyed certain privileges like lifetime employment, no retrenchment policy, and modest emoluments compensated by generous festival food coupons, no salary cuts – even if employees remained absent for months or years due to illness, they would continue to get paid, “as it was not their fault and we couldn’t just dump them”, said Cama.

The current Editor, Nilesh Dave said its glorious traditions continue and entering the 200th year was a landmark occasion of which all are excited.

National News

Punjab to soon be front-running industrial hub: Mann

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Bhagwant Mann

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday said the current political stability and quick decision-making mechanism, along with out-of-box ideas, will soon make Punjab a front running industrial state in the country.

Amritsar, Feb 7 : Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday said the current political stability and quick decision-making mechanism, along with out-of-box ideas, will soon make Punjab a front running industrial state in the country.

Interacting with industrialists here during the run-up for progressive Punjab Investment Summit scheduled to be held on February 23-24 in Mohali, he said Punjabis are born to be number one as they have traits of hard work and dedication in their blood.

Mann said due to this spirit, the Punjabis have always excelled in every sphere, adding the entrepreneurs from the state have carved a niche for themselves across the globe.

The day is not far when Punjab will be on the high growth trajectory of industrial growth, he added.

Announcing a major boost to the tourism industry across the state by harnessing the immense potential of this sector, the Chief Minister said the state is blessed with several natural resources which can be developed into international tourist points.

The government is coming up with a concrete proposal for developing Ranjit Sagar Dam, Chohal Dam, Nurpur Bedi, and others into tourist destinations. Mann said these tourist spots have huge potential to put the state on the roadmap of international tourism.

The Chief Minister said the holy city of Amritsar will be further developed into a hub of religious and patriotic tourism. No stone will be left for this noble cause and every effort will be made for the promotion of the tourism sector.

He assured the local industrialists that while promoting the tourism sector, preference will be given to the local industry. Rather than inviting the big players from within the country and abroad, priority will be given to the local industrialists for developing these tourism spots, he said.

Mann said this will allow the local industrialists to flex their muscles in the sector and emerge Punjab as a hub of tourism. The Chief Minister also said the government is also planning to boost the agro-industry in a big way. He said Punjab produces 80 per cent of the total Basmati produced in the country, adding this production will be further enhanced in the coming days.

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National News

Rajnath Singh to host defence ministers’ conclave at Aero India 2023

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rajnath singh

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host a Defence Ministers’ Conclave on the sidelines of the 14th edition of Aero India being held at Bengaluru, India. The February 14 conclave will comprise defence ministers of friendly countries who would also be attending Aero India 2023.

Bengaluru, Feb 7 : Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host a Defence Ministers’ Conclave on the sidelines of the 14th edition of Aero India being held at Bengaluru, India. The February 14 conclave will comprise defence ministers of friendly countries who would also be attending Aero India 2023.

The conclave would address aspects related to deepening cooperation for capacity building (through investments, R&D, joint venture, co-development, co-production and provisioning of defence equipment), training, space, AI and maritime security to grow together with the broad theme ‘Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence (SPEED), a defence department release stated Tuesday.

The conclave is an opportunity for defence ministers of all foreign friendly countries and India to engage with each other to carry forward the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ for a secure and prosperous future for generations to come.

The conclave acquires significance in light of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi push for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India), in defence sector which is aimed towards increasing indigenous defence manufacturing and production capability to develop a self-sufficient defence ecosystem.

It also envisages involving like-minded nations in developing a reliable supply chain free of exploitation and disruptions by certain players; and provide affordable and robust defence equipment to friendly countries, the release noted.

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Former servicemen said idea of Agniveer came from RSS: Rahul

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government over Agnipath scheme and said that it was imposed on Army by the RSS and Home Ministry.

New Delhi, Feb 7 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government over Agnipath scheme and said that it was imposed on Army by the RSS and Home Ministry.

“During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, retired officers of Indian Army told us that idea about Agniveer came from RSS and was thrust on the Army. They said we are training 1000s in weapons and then soon after, they will become civilians amid high unemployment. The officers told me that Ajit Doval is the man behind this idea,” Rahul Gandhi said in the Motion of Thanks on President’s address.

“How is it that the Agniveer Yojana was mentioned only once in the President’s speech? There was no word on unemployment and inflation in the address. So all the issues that people told me about during the yatra, we didn’t hear in the President’s address,” he added amid uproar.

“During ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, we heard people’s voices while we also kept our voices. We talked to children, women, and the elderly during the yatra. We asked the youth about their jobs… Many said they are unemployed or drive Uber. Farmers talked about not getting money under PM-BIMA Yojana and their land being snatched away, while tribals talked about Tribal Bill.”

“When we first started walking (referring to Bharat Jodo Yatra), we wanted to play the opposition and tell people about issues facing the country. However, as we progressed, after 500-600 kms, there was a major change. Instead of us telling the people the source of their problems, they themselves started speaking to us,” he said.

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