India’s only Sanskrit daily newspaper, Sudharma, is in doldrums, as the government remains irresponsive to the company’s shout for financial aid.
By Sheikh Saquib
The two pages, A3 size newspaper established on July 14, 1970, with the sole purpose of propagating Sanskrit is facing a possibility of financial ruin. Sudharma will turn 50 this year in July. The owners—KV Sampath Kumar, the editor and wife, S Jayalakshmi received Padma Shri this year in category of literature, education and journalism. Padma Shri has got their passion recognition but the newspaper remains to be revenue-less. They are in need of financial assistance. The financial condition has remained the same over the years. “It’s more of a passion for Sanskrit and journalism than a revenue-generating venture for us,” said Jayalakshmi.
Deepesh, a subscriber of Sudharma said “I’m a proud subscriber of Sudharma, India’s only Sanskrit newspaper. This is my bit to support the newspaper.”
Government has funds reserved for such publications, till date neither the state nor central government has responded to the letters written by Sudharma seeking financial aid. Data released by Union Ministry of Culture shows that in last three years the Centre government has spent a total of Rs 643.84 crore on the promotion of Sanskrit, which is 22 times the total amount of Rs 29 crore spent on the other five classical Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odia.
Jayalakshmi, core team member of Sudharma, said, “We have written letters to government for financial aid but there is no response till date. We don’t know what else has to be done in order to avail response from the government.”
Sudharma has a circulation of more than 3,500 the two page newspaper is priced at Rs. 1.50 per day and Rs. 500 for yearly subscription. The owners, staff members and six scholars are running the newspaper without getting paid. The scholars are doing it for free. Sudharma needs Rs. 1000 to bring out one edition, on average Rs. 4000 is spent a day for ink, paper and printing. Scholars are not paid, the duo is not making profits but the printing staff need to be paid.
“We wrote to the then HRD minister Smriti Irani and PM Modi to bail us out. But we haven’t got a reply till date,” Kumar said.
Sudharma has an e-paper and claims to have an online readership from more than 99 countries. These countries include Germany, Japan and Israel, but the e-paper is free, which doesn’t add anything to revenue.
The daily newspaper has Sanskrit Scholar Vidwan Dr. H.V. Nagaraja Rao who contributes free of cost said “This is how I can contribute for Sanskrit language and propagate it. The staff, editors and scholars are working to keep the newspaper alive.”
The principal of Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthan, Professor Sachidanand, said, “The government has to take care of the Sanskrit publication, there are funds reserved for publication like this.”
“We have gained recognition after receiving Padma Shri, which has led to an increase in the circulation, quite unexpectedly. We also hope that the government will also recognize our sincere efforts and provide us with financial assistance,” said Jayalakshmi.