Living on News

Outfitted in a white check shirt and black trousers, he replies timidly to whatever question he is asked. A little shy to speak about himself, Jai Prakash, a newspaper vendor who sits mostly silently on his worn out stool, prefers to speak only when he has a customer. Jai Prakash proudly tells me that it has been over 30 years since he took over the business which was initially managed by one of his relatives, whom he used to accompany as a child. He has been in the business since the year 1982.

A father of four children, two boys and two girls, Jai Prakash doesn’t have a 9 to 5 job. In fact he has to reach the newspaper agency which is located near Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) by five in the morning as it takes him two hours to buy newspapers from there.  He does all of this not only because he has to pay the fees of his children who study in Bhavan’s College at Charni Road and run a household but also because it gives him satisfaction.

“Apne paas toh kuch farak nahi pada hai pehele se. Balki, badh gaya hai”, (I have not come across any change, in fact it has increased) says Jai Prakash when asked whether the sale of newspapers has increased or declined. In a time where the world’s statistics show that the sale of newspapers is falling down and where many top notch publishing houses are shifting their bases to online media, he hasn’t experienced any cut in the business. As a matter of fact, he claims to sell around a thousand newspapers daily. Also, he provides newspapers to the public library behind his stall which he considers one of his stable sources of income.

According to him, the sale of Times of India and Midday has increased, mostly because the former has introduced schemes so as to attract more customers. On the other hand, Jai Prakash states that magazines have suffered a lot over the years. One of the main reasons could be that the price of print magazines has increased in the last few years. The magazines which do sell from his stall are Stardust, India Today, Femina and Filmfare.

He says that the Government doesn’t really help the newspaper vendors in any way in their business. To tell the truth, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) often takes some money from them. There is indeed a union of the newspaper vendors but Jai Prakash says it doesn’t really do anything; it’s only for name’s sake.

It’s good news for all the paperback and print lovers that even in a world in which digital media is taking over rapidly, newspapers in India are not becoming obsolete. It’s all the more fantastic news for people like Jai Prakash whose bread and butter depend simply on the sale of newspapers & magazines and who work hard despite the harsh weather. “Hamare paas chaata aur plastic reheta hai”, (We have umbrellas and plastic) he says.

{Image courtesy: www.telegraph.co.uk}

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