Uncertainty haunts the future of Sudharma , the country’s only Sanskrit news daily printed from Mysore, as the absence of government subsidy and advertisement support has made it difficult to sustain.
In a digital age where print is perceived to be on the decline, it is indeed a remarkable achievement to keep a newspaper going, especially in a language considered “dead” in popular perception.
However, the founding-editor Pandit K.N. Vardaraja Iyengar, who launched the newspaper in 1970, did not venture into publishing for revenue but with an entirely altruistic motive. “The sole objective of launching the Sanskrit daily was to propagate the language “spoken by the gods”, and not for economic gain,” says his son and present editor K.V. Sampath Kumar.
Mr. Sampath launched its e-paper a few years ago in tune with the evolving digital age and to reach out to a global audience of Sanskrit enthusiasts. “Though the reach has widened, it has had little impact on revenue,” says Mr. Sampath, who is passionate about promoting Sanskrit. But the economic reality of running a newspaper without revenue is beginning to bite.
Sudharma has a print order of 3,000 copies a day and is despatched across India by post. However, the print and postal costs are adding to the growing expenditure, Mr. Sampath says.
While it makes economic sense to discontinue the print version and retain the digital version, Mr. Sampath believes not all subscribers of Sudharma may have access to the Internet, and so he persists in continuing the print edition.
In the initial stages, Sudharma could sustain itself. “But with rise in printing costs and the logistics of supplying the paper to the daily subscribers, sustaining a no-profit, no-loss model has become difficult,” says Mr. Sampath, who is reporter, sub-editor, proof-reader, editor, and publisher of his daily.