Gujaratmitra completes glorious 150 years
Having been enjoying the precious status of being the oldest newspaper in Gujarat for decades of generations, Gujaratmitra has recently completed 150 years of existence in the industry and looks forward to embarking on a continuing journey towards new milestones. Here captured a flashback of the newspaper’s rare distinction which a very few newspapers in the whole country could ever claim.

Celebrating its 150 glorious years of uninterrupted existence, Gujarati daily Gujaratmitra, published from Surat, brought out a 156 pages Sesquicentennial Special Issue titled Simachinha to mark this historic achievement. The content of this special publication is highly informative, interesting and thought provoking. Penned by renowned personalities like Lord Meghna Desai, Sam Pitroda, Sunil Gavaskar, Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Dr K Radhakrishnan (chairman, ISRO), Vinod Dua, Vir Sanghvi, Anandji (of Kalyanji-Anandji fame), Sanjay Chhel and many others, selection of subjects in this sesquicentennial publication includes space technology, tourism, print & electronic media, film, television, computer, literature, science, food, etc.

Simachinha has also depicted a brief journey of Gujaratmitra since its inception in the year 1863 in a very interesting and impressive manner. In fact, this commemorative publication is turned out to be a collector’s copy in the true sense. It can be used as an interesting eye opener, reflecting on the changing times and lives of the generations to come.

Down memory lane

A Parsi gentleman named Dinshaw Ardeshir Talyarkhan started Gujaratmitra as a weekly newspaper titled Suratmitra in 1863. Due to its growing popularity even outside Surat, within a year of its establishment, the title was changed to Gujaratmitra. Since 1870, ownership of the newspaper kept changing. In 1893, Uttamram Umedram Reshamwala joined the newspaper as a sub-editor. Then in the year 1920, he purchased the newspaper and became its owner. Since then Gujaratmitra has been managed and run by the Reashamwala family. Latter in 1929, Uttamram breathed his last and his eldest son Champaklal took charge of the newspaper in the capacity of editor-in-chief.

During his tenure, Champaklal achieved an important landmark in the growth of the newspaper by converting the weekly Gujaratmitra and Gujaratdarpan into daily newspaper on November 15, 1936. Thus Gujaratmitra was established as full-fledged daily thereafter. Just six months after converting the weekly newspaper into a daily, Champaklal succumbed to an untimely death. Then his younger brother Pravinkant Uttamram Reshamwala compelled to leave his college study to take the responsibility of the newspaper.

Pravinkant nurtured and nourished Gujaratmitra to successfully focus on strengthening the newspaper’s content with balanced views, powerful editorial, columns on various subjects by authoritative pens, in-depth coverage, etc and thereby put the daily on a strong footing. Only due to its inherent strength, the paper could survive four devastating floods in the river Tapi occurred between 1959 and 2006. Particularly the last flood in 2006 was quite ravaging that the entire plant and store at Gujaratmitra Bhavan was submerged under 12 ft of water for more than five subsequent days. Whatever the stumbling blocks, Gujaratmitra always rose like a phoenix.

Traversing through sands of time

Gujaratmitra has passed through phases of times over the past century and a half. This newspaper has not only been a witness to the political upheavals, freedom struggle, cultural and socio-economic changes during all these years, but has been a friend, philosopher, guide, leader and catalyst to the changing times. It has also stood upright as a sentinel of democracy and undauntedly listened to and righteously conveyed the voice of people in times of need, be it the Pardi Ghasia Satyagrah led by Ishwarbhai Desai in Bardoli or the fight for a separate university for south Gujarat or an airport for Surat.

Strongly and fearlessly fought for public causes for the betterment of the people and society, Gujaratmitra has been the beloved and celebrated mouthpiece of south Gujarat. Even in today’s age of deteriorating journalistic values, the newspaper’s honesty of principles is deeply appreciated by its common readers and cultured intelligentsia alike.

As of today

Ever since Gujaratmitra emerged as a forerunner and leader in giving voice to the public issues of Surat and the surrounding areas of south Gujarat and by doing so the newspaper is still maintaining its identity with a current circulation of 95,000 copies around the region. And the long years that have passed between 1863 and 2014 are not just about a lengthy time frame but it is also about being a witness to the changing times, changes in the country, the world and also the drastic changes in the scenario of the newspaper industry itself.


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