The Parsi-Zoroastrians, who have a vibrant community press, have got their latest newspaper. On Saturday, free copies of the first issue of the weekly, Parsi Times, reached many homes.
At present, the two main publications covering community news are the 178-year-old English-Gujarati weekly Jam-e-Jamshed and the bi-monthly magazine Parsiana. Earlier, a Gujarati daily, Jam-e-Jamshed is now a bilingual catering to the younger section of the community who do not read Gujarati.
Freyan Bhathena, editor of Parsi Times, said, “The community is getting stuck with issues that are more relevant to the older generation. Young people are tired of that conversation. As far as the community press is concerned, there is a void for young people. We need a fresh set of views.”
The 16-page all-colour newspaper hopes to reach 10,000 Parsi-Zoroastrian homes. It features columns on finance, apart from community news. The new paper is, however, not just aimed at young readers alone. Bhathena said that it will be bilingual with a Gujarati section for older readers.
For nearly two centuries the Parsis have had their own newspapers and magazines to represent various views on issues concerning the community. The Mumbai Samachar, which was first published in 1882, is the oldest and though it is now a daily read by Hindu and Muslim Gujaratis, the newspaper still has a regular column on Parsi issues. Other newspapers like the Kaiser-i-Hind (now defunct) started in 1882 and the Rast Goftar, started by one of the leading lights of our freedom struggle Dadabhai Nowrojee, was first published in 1851.
The Parsi Times has been registered as a newspaper with the Registrar of Newspapers. While the few first issues will be distributed free, later copies will be subscribed.
Bombay Parsi Punchayet chairman Dinshaw Mehta said that the community did not need another newspaper. “It (Parsi Times) is not a community newspaper. It is more like a propaganda sheet. It has been set up to propagate the reformist point of view in a subtle manner,” said Mehta.
Others felt that a new newspaper was needed. “There is a scope for a paper that reflects liberal views in the community,” said Vispy Wadia of the group, Association for Revival of Zoroastrianism.
But Bhathena said the newspaper will have no political or religious leanings. “We are celebrating what is nice about the community,” he said.