In line with a time-honoured tradition in the newspaper industry, a digital media outlet has brought out a special election issue titled Therdhal Malar on the eve of the Tamil Nadu Assembly elections.
Explaining the reason behind publishing this special issue, Peer Mohammed, founder and editor of Ippodhu recalled that Dinamani, a Tamil newspaper from Chennai-based The New Indian Express group had brought out a thin special election issue during the editorship of RmT Sambandham in 1998.
“After that, such initiatives were shelved. So, we decided to revive the tradition and bring out a special election issue,” he added. It has been a tradition in Tamil Nadu that regional newspapers bring out a ‘special issue’ on auspicious days such as Diwali to celebrate the occasion.
The special issue magazine, which was most popular in Tamilian households, usually contained off-beat news articles, interviews with political leaders and film stars, short stories, jokes, posters of Hindu gods and of course, on fad diets.
Dinamani used to bring out ‘Deepavali Malar’ in the 80s. The man behind this concept was none other than the late Gnani Sankaran, a journalist and writer who worked in that group at that time. Following Dinamani’s footsteps, other publications like Ananda Vikatan, Amutha Surabhi, too started to bring out special festival editions or ‘malars’ every year during Diwali.
Of late, with the entry of the Tamil edition of The Hindu, the newspaper too has started to bring out special issue magazines, not only for Diwali but for Pongal and Tamil New Year as well. It is in this backdrop, a new kind of ‘malar’ has emerged on the election landscape in the state.
The magazine, Therdhal Malar contains articles by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Leader of Opposition MK Stalin and other political party leaders, which constitutes the first section of the issue. In the second section, the magazine has details about the Assembly elections conducted till date and the names of MLAs. The articles on elections, democracy and the voting behaviour by journalists, political commentators, forms the third part of the book.
Besides the articles, the magazine features a lot of rare old photographs marking historical moments in the state and interesting tidbits about the working of the Assembly.
According to Mohammed people consider that elections conducted once in five years is democracy. “Many don’t know about the true value of their vote and they are unaware that democracy is an everyday process. The primary objective of publishing this special issue is to create an awareness about how democracy works,” he said.
Most of the political parties had doubted the ability of a digital media to bring out a print publication and many political leaders kept procrastinating over sending their articles. “That’s the only challenge we faced during the production of this magazine,” Mohammed added. The articles are replete with historical moments, personal anecdotes and new insights to make democracy work even better. While EPS lists his government’s achievements in his article, Stalin plays a flashback on how he came to this position step by step.
The topics of the articles by the contributors ranges from Periyar’s legacy to social justice struggles by Dravidian parties to how a common man thinks while voting.