GUWAHATI, April 23 - Assamese fortnightly magazine Prantik, which completed 35 years of its existence in December last year, has been able to create a group of loyal readers who boast by identifying themselves as the members of the �Prantik Family.�
Together with the legacy left behind by its founder Chief Editor, Late Dr Bhabendra Nath Saikia, and its writers and sellers, these loyal readers have sustained the fortnightly for the past three-and-a-half decades.
The magazine has been able to create a genre for the vernacular magazines and has been depending mostly on the circulation revenue for its survival, contrary to the others in the State and the rest of the globe as well.
Nripendra Narayan Sarma of the city-based Krishna Kanta Handiqui State Open University (KKHSOU) has prepared a working paper on the magazine, titled �A management case on Prantik � the Assamese fortnightly.�
The working paper maintained that the ideas and standards set by Late Dr Saikia and the legacy left behind by him, the love and loyalty of the readers, writers and sellers of this magazine have sustained the fortnightly for the past 35 years.
Some of the most popular novels and autobiographies in Assamese literature were first serially published in Prantik. The writings of its founder Chief Editor were a treasure for this magazine and Assamese literature. The Shesh Prishtha (Last Page) containing the daily dairy of Late Dr Saikia, who expired in 2003, is still very popular.
Similarly important, or, popular is the letters to the editor it receives and publishes. Impressed by its quality, some of the readers have even gone to the extent of describing the magazine as �keen to transcend the frontiers.�
Prantik has about 200 regular subscribers in Guwahati and it has about 3,500 direct subscribers spread all over the country and abroad. According to Utpal Dutta, a keen observer of the print media, quoted by the working paper, Prantik has created a new direction in the distribution system of Assamese magazines.
The working paper also quoted Deben Saikia of Rumi Rupak Enterprise, an old agent of Prantik and distributor of some other periodicals at Nagaon, who maintained that though the advent of new technology-based devices have affected the sales of Assamese magazines, Prantik is the least affected by this phenomenon.
However, under the impact of the forces of rapid urbanisation, there is ostensible erosion in the traditional values and habits of the Assamese society. And the real growth of the periodicals exists in the smaller towns and villages, �where people still have slower pace of life and can enjoy leisure reading,� said the working paper.
Though the fortnightly is not targeting the children, it is seen that children of the 10-14 year range also read and enjoy its contents. But it remains a fact that despite the fortnightly having the potential to get its readership base expanded phenomenally due to the existing size of the students, who read in Assamese medium, the reality is different, the working paper said.
Reasoning, it said that with the advent of the new age media vehicles, the print magazines in India, including Assam, are facing problems in retaining their readership and increasing circulation. Although Prantik is a unique product in its own category, it cannot defy competition. The readership base of magazines is shrinking all over, especially in the vernacular serious magazine category, opined the working paper.