Every once in a while someone I’ve never met before asks me about the JS. What happened? Why did it close?
the JS was the abbreviation of Junior Statesman, a weekly magazine for young people, which was launched by the Statesman newspaper in 1967 and lasted 10 years.
Its editor was Desmond Doig, a multi-talented writer, artist and photographer. The authors were Dubby Bhagat, Papa Menon and myself.
Aimed at readers ranging from mid-teens to early 20s, the magazine featured pop music and fashion. He also covered Naxalbari, Mother Teresa, inflation and Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-government mass movement.
Critics accused the magazine of “aping the West”, ignoring the fact that it featured Ravi Shankar, Uday Shankar, Satyajit Ray and MF Hussain alongside The Beatles.
What was so different about JS that, nearly 50 years after it was abolished by the then Director General Statesman, it should still be remembered so vividly by so many people, with so much emotion, as in remembrance of the loss of a close friend?
The answer could be that the JS was way ahead of its time in that, long before the term “social media” was coined, the magazine served as an interconnecting platform for so many across the country.
It was a virtue born of necessity. Works on a small budget, JS couldn’t afford more full-time employees. The three of us writers couldn’t fill the magazine week after week. So we relied on our readers to also be contributors, what we call today prosumers, consumers who are also producers.
It was Facebook before Facebook was invented. the JSThe list of prosumers was long and included, among many others, MJ Akbar, Shashi Tharoor, Bachi Karkaria and photographer Raghu Rai. It was an eclectic mix, representing all shades of opinion, as diverse as India itself.
That is why, so long after his passing, JS missing today. Because it was part of so many lives. And when asked how JS it would have worked if he had existed these days, I reply that I don’t know.
But if it had existed with its ubiquitous diversity, perhaps these days might not have been “nowadays.”
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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