Rajagopalachari’s ‘Swarajya’ to be relaunched soon
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New Delhi: Swarajya, a 58-year-old liberal magazine founded by freedom fighter and India’s last Governor-general C. Rajagopalachari, which became famous for arguing the case for the Indian political Right, is being revived after 34 years.
Kovai Media, a company registered in Coimbatore, will revive the magazine in both online and print versions. While the digital daily called Swarajyamag.com will see its beta version being launched in the next few days, the print version will be launched as a monthly in January 2015.
The relaunch takes place under what many would argue are well-suited, if not near perfect, political and economic circumstances, with much of the mainstream intellectual opinion in India having swung to the right of centre.
Sandipan Deb, editorial director of Swarajya, said that the weekly magazine launched by Rajagopalachari in 1956 was the first to argue against Nehruvian socialism. “We are now re-launching it as a liberal, opinions magazine,” he said. Media website Newslaundry first reported on the re-launch of Swarajya.
Deb was founding editor of the English weekly news and current affairs magazine OPEN, editor at The Financial Express newspaper and managing editor of the general news magazine Outlook. Deb writes a column for livemint.com. T.R. Vivek, editor of the personal finance magazine Finepolis, will join Swarajya as executive editor.
Explaining the mission of the magazine in its early days, Rajagopalachari, popularly known as Rajaji, wrote: “There is before the country the great problem of how to secure welfare without surrendering the individual to be swallowed up by the State, how to get the best return for the taxes the people pay and how to preserve spiritual values while working for better material standards of life. This journal will serve all these purposes.”
Deb said, “Swarajya will be an authoritative voice of reason representing the liberal centre-right point of view. In its second coming, the magazine will remain committed to the ideals of individual liberty, freedom of expression and enterprise.”
For the digital media product, the company plans to offer tablet and smartphone versions and provide daily commentaries, blogs, insta-opinions, interactive multimedia content, podcasts, videos and other web exclusives. “Swarajya’s focus will be on what we have identified as the social, political, economic and cultural life of India. We will be a ‘viewspaper’ on the web and in print with a serious arts and culture section,” Deb added.
The rights for brand Swarajya have been bought from the Chennai-based publishing house Bharathan which publishes the popular Tamil magazine Kalki. The company has also got the rights to 40,000 pages of content from Swarajya which carried articles by figures such as the Dalai Lama —the Tibetan spiritual leader wrote on his escape from China—and late president R. Venkataraman.
The magazine’s slow decline began after Rajaji passed away in 1972 and it folded up in 1980. According to Deb, although Rajagopalachari was the patron of the magazine, he did not hold any official position in it. “But he proof-read and subbed the articles, wrote editorials under ‘Dear India’ (a popular column) and ideologically dictated the magazine,” Deb said.
The magazine will now be part of Kovai Media, set up by entrepreneurs Prasanna Vishwanathan and Amarnath Govindarajan in 2009, that operates the web portal www.centreright.in (CRI). CRI will be absorbed in the new venture and the stake of the founders of Kovai will get diluted with new shareholders, including angel investors, putting money into the company.
Deb did not divulge the amount of money being invested in the business but claimed the second round of funding has been lined up for March 2015. “The investors have a profit motive and they are also ideologically aligned with the product. However, no political party is an investor in this venture,” he said.
The editorial advisory board of Swarajya includes Jerry Rao, an advocate of liberal centre right thought and the founder and former CEO of IT company MphasiS, economists Surjit S. Bhalla and Bibek Debroy, and Swapan Dasgupta, veteran journalist and a voice from the Indian right.
Kovai expects the digital version of the magazine to generate revenue from subscriptions. It also hopes to extend the brand into events by inviting some of the world’s leading thinkers in disciplines like politics, technology and philosophy.
“Swarajya will be fiercely independent, we will not be politically partisan. It is a not a mouthpiece of any political party or individual,” said Deb.
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