The coming together of the Parsi community’s oldest newspaper—Jam-e-Jamshed— and its youngest one — Parsi Times — have created a stir in the community. Members have not taken kindly to this development as the 5-year-old weekly, seen as pro-establishment (read Bombay Parsi Punchayet), will now be controlling the 184-year-old paper.
The new dispensation insists this is for purely commercial reasons considering the dwindling Parsi population, leaving very little scope for competition. Last week, the Parsi Times announced that Jam-e-Jamshed has teamed up with its “equally popular counterpart” under the sole management of Parsi Times Multimedia Pvt Ltd. “The aim behind this unison is two fold-—to add to the commercial viability in economies of scale for two publications… to provide the community with the best of this synergy as JJ is patronised for its traditional leanings and PT is the choice of the exuberant youth,” it stated.
Despite assurances that the bilingual weeklies that carry a combination of English and Gujarati articles will maintain their independent identity, few members of the community believe the move will limit the editorial content of Jam-e-Jamshed, known for carrying articles and advertisements criticising the Bombay Parsi Punchayet, a 350-year-old trust and the apex body of the Parsi community.
“Both the newspapers have identical print orders. Both cater to a niche market. This decision was purely commercial for survival of both the brands,” said Kersi Randeria, owner of Parsi Times and current trustee of the BPP. While the infighting among the BPP trustees has been on for several years, BPP’s past chairman Dinshaw Mehta had published articles in Jam-e-Jamshed against the current board of trustees and their decisions. “All my articles have been paid advertisements. I don’t see any problem with that. But it would be unfair to close that avenue,” Mehta said. Community magazine Parsiana’s editor Jehangir Patel agrees. “Jam-e-Jamshed will certainly mute its criticism of the punchayet now.”
While Parsiana caters to more liberal community members and has a larger readership outside India as well, Jam-e-Jamshed has a bent towards religious and historical writings. Parsi Times attracts the youth.
A community member in Bandra who did not wish to be named said the main fear is that those who are upset with the functioning of the BPP will have nowhere to go.
Mumbai Mirror attempted to speak to Adi Dubash, owner of Jam-e-Jamshed but he refused to comment. “I have not spoken on the decision to anyone so far. I will not like to discuss anything on this,” Dubash said.
By Jyoti Shelar, Mumbai Mirror