Last week, I was reading a column from Ashokamitran Katuraigal. Asokamitran worked for Swadesamitran, a newspaper of yesteryear Tamil Nadu. He wrote political opinions in a pseudo name, Kinkaran. He describes the doomdays of Swadesamitran as it was struggling to compete with Alai Oosai, another newsdaily. The column was a sensitively written moving account about the death of the newspaper.
Swadesamitran was started by G Subramania Aiyer who was then owning The Hindu. From 1904 to 1906, Subramanya Bharati worked as a sub-editor of this newspaper and was writing radical opinions against the British Raj. He left Swadesamitran to start another newsdaily, India. Later he re-joined Swadesamitran in 1920 and continued to work for them until his death in 1921. Swadesamitran was closed in 70’s after losing to the competition of Alai Oosai and Dina Thanthi which brought modern journalistic practices to Tamil journalism.
The news here is this. After reading two columns of Ashokamitran on Swadesamitran’s history, I was inquisitive to read more history of this newspaper. While searching on the net, I found this gem written by the historian S Muthiah. In this awe-inspiring article, S Muthiah talks about the rise and fall of Swadesamitran. An extract –
Nevertheless, Bharati in 1914 wrote of him, “unaided he has made Tamil Journalism a fact of the world in spite of his imperfect early training in Tamil. … They win who dare; Mr. Aiyer dared and he has succeeded in establishing a Tamil daily journal which, with all its faults, is the most useful paper in the Tamil country. His whole political gospel can be summed up in these words: `Peaceful but tireless and unceasing effort.’ Let us sweat ourselves into Swaraj, he would seem to say.”
Seriously ill in 1915, Subramania Aiyer persuaded A. Rangaswami Iyengar, Kasturi Ranga Iyengar’s nephew and right-hand man at The Hindu, to take over the paper and he made the Swadesmitran “a new force, potent and pervasive… (changing) the placid atmosphere of Tamil Journalism”. Rangaswami Iyengar brought in his kin C.R. Srinivasan to manage the business end of the paper and Bharati, back from Pondicherry, rejoined the paper in 1920. The three made the Swadesamitran ” a literary masterpiece of political analysis.”
The next thing, I did was to reach out swadesamitran.com. I figured that the domain wasn’t even booked. Wayback Machine doesn’t even have a trace of this site which means it wasn’t ever booked in the history of internet. That is such a pity. Though the company closed down, I assume that someone would be holding the registered trademark of Swadesamitran. I expected Hindu to have booked the domain in rememberance of this newspaper which once started the newspaper experience to the Tamils. I wanted to buy it and then create a remembrance site of the newspaper. With just three articles on hand, two by Ashokamitran and one by S Muthiah, I booked swadesamitran.com. It’s currently in the construction mode.
On the other hand, I’m not sure if someone would come now, after all these days, with a copyright violation. Ofcourse, I’m ready to transfer the site to them without any conditions and even ready to sponsor the domain registration charges. But I have no clue, why those of them who hold Swadesamitran trademark haven’t even bothered to book the domain. I’m also clueless if someone really holds the copyright of this newspaper at all. I was also thinking of shooting an email to the Hindu editor, to check if they hold the copyright and are interested to host Swadesamitran.
Neverthless, I will find time to host the site with whatever available information I have. If any of you have any mastheads, paper cuttings or other information on Swadesamitran, please pass it on. Will host it crediting your name like how they paint a sponsor’s name ‘through-out’ the tubelight in temples. That was meant to be a joke for this rather serious blogpost. Konjam Siringappa.