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




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

People steal beer bottles after truck overturns in Andhra




People stole beer bottles after a truck carrying alcohol cases overturned in Andhra Pradesh’s Anakapalli district.

The incident occurred on the national highway between Anakapalli and Bayyavaram on Monday evening.

As the entire load of 200 cases of beer bottles fell on the ground, locals in the area scurried to steal them instead of helping the truck driver and cleaner, who escaped the accident with minor injuries.

A footage of the incident has gone viral on social media.

Similar incidents of people stealing liquor bottles after road accidents involving alcohol-carrying trucks have been reported in the state in the past.

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Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge collapse will affect water biodiversity in region




Collapse of Khagaria-Bhagalpur bridge over the Ganga river will have a long-lasting effect on the water biodiversity of the region, as per environmental experts.

Ashok Ghosh, the professor of Mahavir Cancer Institute and former chairman of Bihar state pollution control board told: “Such a big chunk of concrete structure falling into the Ganga will have a big environmental effect for a long time. It will deeply hurt the water biodiversity of the river in this region. The water-borne animals will be adversely affected by it.”

“Unlike silt, the concrete structures used in the making bridges are non biodegradable materials. Hence, there is no question of the concrete structures dissolving in water. The iron rods may turn into rust after coming in contact with water but it is a slow process which takes years. Also, the ongoing projects of cleaning the river will also suffer a big jolt due to the bridge collapse,” Ghosh said.

The concrete structures of such a massive amount change the flow of the river as well. It makes the river more shallow in the region which leads to flooding. Khagaria in particular is affected by floods in the monsoon sessions. The fresh structural disaster would create more trouble for people living in the region,” Ghosh said.

Bihar is located in the low lying area of Himalayan range. As a result, a large number of rivers like Kosi, Kamla Balan, Gandak, Parman, originate from Himalaya and its water cross various North Bihar districts to finally fall in Ganga river.

The biggest challenge of the state government is the silt carried by these rivers and its accumulation in the low-lying areas of North Bihar and in the Ganga river. It makes the rivers more shallow by disturbing the natural drains. It turned worse after the drainage system of various districts were developed in an unplanned manner. The water comes from the Himalayan range but does not return or exit to other sides due the ill drainage system.

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National News

President Murmu Is 1st Indian To Be Conferred With Suriname’s Highest Civilian Award




President Droupadi Murmu has been conferred with Suriname’s highest civilian award by President Chandrikapersad Santokhi to honour the deep-rooted bilateral ties. Murmu arrived in Suriname on Sunday on a three-day state visit – her first since assuming office in July last year.

“An honour reflective of the deep-rooted India-Suriname ties! President Droupadi Murmu @rashtrapatibhvn conferred with the ‘Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star’, the highest civilian award of Suriname by President @CSantokhi,” the Ministry of External Affairs tweeted.

Presidemt Murmu’s statement

President Murmu said she was greatly honoured to receive Suriname’s highest distinction.

“This recognition holds tremendous significance, not only for me but also for the 1.4 billion people of India whom I represent,” she tweeted after receiving the award on Monday.

She dedicated the honour to the successive generations of the Indian-Surinamese community, who have played a stellar role in enriching the fraternal ties between our two countries.

PM Modi congratulates President Murmu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the President on receiving the award.

“Congratulations to Rashtrapati Ji on being conferred the highest civilian award of Suriname – Grand Order of the Chain of the Yellow Star. This special gesture from the Government and the people of Suriname symbolises the enduring friendship between our countries,” Prime Minister Modi tweeted.

Despite her many official engagements, President Murmu spent some time with a group of children who came to greet her in Paramaribo. She offered them India-made chocolates.

President also visited ‘Marinetrap’ where she witnessed the simulation and welcoming of the arrival of the First Indians in Suriname. She also inaugurated the simulated village at Independence Square.

Murmu’s visit to Surinam coincides with 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname

On Monday, President Murmu met her Surinamese counterpart Chandrikapersad Santokhi and later led delegation-level talks between the two sides. Speaking on the occasion, the President said that she was happy to be in Suriname on her first State Visit as President of India when it is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Indians in Suriname.

She said that deep historical and cultural ties provide the foundation for the India-Suriname multifaceted and modern partnership.

Bilateral trade between India and Suriname

The President noted that bilateral trade between the two countries is well below potential. She said that there is a need to work together to expand bilateral trade for mutual benefit. She expressed confidence that the agreements signed during the visit would help boost the trade and economic ties. She said that there is scope for further collaboration in sectors like pharmaceuticals, Ayurveda, agriculture and defence, the Rashtrapati Bhavan said in a press release.

The President said that India is committed to enhancing technical cooperation and contributing to the capacity-building and skill development of Suriname’s human resources as per the country’s requirements. The two countries also signed three MoUs to enhance bilateral cooperation.

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