A journey with you

  • 30/05/2002

Daring to dream is foolish these days. When we started publishing Down To Earth many people thought we were foolish. Bringing out a fortnightly newsmagazine is difficult enough, but bringing out a fortnightly, which aims to report to an India that is out of sight and out of mind of most, was indeed daunting. Media mostly focuses on the antics of our politicians. We wanted to find life beyond this mirage of what is real and to write about what really matters, to you and me. And to the future, our children will inherit. In the first editorial we promised Down To Earth has a purpose. Not to capture a share of the information market, but to fill a critical information gap.

We have tried hard to fill that gap. And with this issue we complete 10 years of Down To Earth. It has been a long and disturbing journey. We have learnt that events around us are befuddling as well as enlightening. Despairing as well as inspiring. But most of all, challenging.

As our colleague, Anil Agarwal would say, reporting India is not an easy task. It is not easy to comprehend. It is a country with incredible diversity. But never before, has it been more divided. In this India of two kinds, one kind makes bombs and missiles to earn a place in the sun. Meanwhile, the other kind can't even find clean water to drink, and sometimes, no water at all. The first kind of India proudly exhibits its prowess in Information Technology, the second fails to deal with daily filth and dirt. If on one hand, India's urban population is poised to be the largest in the world, India itself remains a largely rural country. But most of all, as Anil would say, we have a country which prides itself on its scientific capacities, but it has governments which are knowledge-proof.

In all this, it has also been our desire, indeed our job, to look for glimpses of the way ahead. Change also means standing behind something. In this vast bleak landscape, we still have to find the little kernels of our dream. Otherwise, cynicism becomes the biggest obstacle to change, dismissive and highly destructive. There are a million mutinies every day in India. One has to constantly look for those. To enthuse and to inspire.

Reporting then for us has been to seek answers to the diversity, disaster and deliverance in this world around us. These are the pictures we have tried to bring to you each fortnight.

We have also found ourselves lost in a vortex of the change around us. Not always for the better. When Down To Earth began in the early 1990s, India was just at the threshold of economic growth. In the last 10 years, the mess has grown. The sheer toxic hell of the urban-industrial sectors has entered our lives, indeed our bodies. On the other hand, while rural India is still reeling under cycles of vicious poverty and environmental degradation, it has also in its crises, found some answers. Life at the margins of survival, has found innovation and resilience. It is here the future answers to our cities may even be.

The world has also changed these last 10 years. A new world order is at our doorstep, like it or not. And it is our effort to understand this future, where the rich and developed are consuming so much that the impact of our gluttony is going well beyond the national borders. Economic globalisation is inseparable from ecological globalisation, as we begin to learn, slowly and unwillingly, to live together, to share this one world. Environmental conventions are the rules and regulations of this global constitution.

But as many readers have said, we need to try harder to find nuggets of hope. It is easy to point to problems. Difficult to believe in solutions. We promise we will. We know we have a duty to hope.

We also know we have a duty to you, our readers. We could not have travelled these last 10 years without your support. No way. We have no share of the market or advertising revenue worth its name. What we have instead is the continued interest of our readers. We have a subscription renewal rate that would be the envy of most publications.

We have readers across the world. But in India, our readers can be found in virtually every district of the country. These are ordinary people. But also extraordinary, as each is committed to change. Our "letters to the editor" page is a testimony of this. From this 10th year issue we have expanded your space in the magazine and we look forward to hearing from you even more often.

From this issue there is also a change in our "looks". We hope you will continue to like us. We decided to change, not because we had to, but because we wanted to. Change is good. It reflects life. We look forward to continuing our journey with you in the future of our dreams.

- Sunita Narain

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