Indian Newslink steps into its Silver Jubilee Year

The first Diwali Cover (below, centre) of 1999, our November 1 and the latest, November 15, 2023 issue, released today, November 15, 2023. Between the years and the covers, there has been a sea of change.

Venkat Raman
Auckland, November 15, 2023

Indian Newslink completes 24 years of service today to a growing family of readers, advertisers, sponsors, reporters, correspondents, contributors, and well-wishers in New Zealand and across the world. Like always, we bow before them in gratitude and humility and seek their continued blessings and patronage so that we can continue to serve them.

We are marching towards an important milestone: the Silver Jubilee (25th) Year, strengthened by your patronage, care and oftentimes, constructive criticism.

Twenty-four years may be a wink in the vast canvas of time, but it becomes a milestone in the history of a newspaper. These years brought with them challenges, hardships, struggles, mishaps and a mixed bag of bouquets and brickbats.

Twenty-four years of constant battle with the ends, to make them meet, so that a publication keeps ticking in its attempt to reach its readers.

Twenty-four years of anxiety coupled with excitement and despair, accompanied by hope.

Twenty-four years of professional pursuit to reach up to the expectations of its audience.

These short 24 years seem like a millennium for a small community newspaper that ventured out of the mind of a sole individual whose penchant for the media industry played with a passion for marketing. We salute Ravin Lal, our Founder and pay homage to his vision and leadership and the current owner, Managing Director and Publisher Jacob Mannothra for his commitment to quality and independent journalism, business acumen and quality stewardship.

The Beginning

It all began in the Spring of 1999 when there was not a publication around to speak for the growing Indian community.

There were voices that were never heard.

There were concerns, issues and matters that existed but never raised.

Simply because there was no platform to allow a dialogue to take place and for exchange of information and experience.

And then appeared an individual who dared to act. A one-man army that was prepared to launch, lead and sustain a campaign with a sense of purpose.

There was no bank balance or venture capital to speak of, there was no one willing to lend an ear for the project, let alone lend money but there were plenty of people to run down the idea.

The failure of the Auckland Star that year did not help either to boost one’s morale or assuage the feelings of those who were apprehensive of the concept.

“It will never work.” “You are wasting your time.” “Who will read your newspaper?”

As the sound of the detractors and doomsayers became loud, the determination to launch the product and allow for public reaction grew even stronger.

The idea had already begun to grow into action.

People who never tried would never know if they would fail or succeed.

It was 24 years ago that the first issue (in September 1999), produced from the obtuse surroundings of an East Auckland home to commemorate the Festival of Lights was published.

The Diwali Special was to test the waters and evaluate the market potential and response.

It was a prelude to the launch of a regular publication.

The special issue was priced at $2.

The pessimists had their field day; the response to the special issue was not exactly overwhelming but not sufficient for any entrepreneur to enter the media world, given its specialties and risks.

But this was not ‘any entrepreneur.’

It has been a long journey of challenges, pleasantries, goodwill and respect. The horizon yonder appears brighter with the burning Sun.

Encouraging Response

The launch issue of Indian Newslink hit the market on November 15, 1999, carrying with it some copies of the Diwali Special as a gift.

The first issue of Indian Newslink was a much-discussed topic.

There were a few who encouraged its continuation and many who still considered it a non-starter.

It was not long before they were proved utterly and depressingly wrong.

The market seemed to have accepted the product, but a number of challenges remained.

For, producing a newspaper, aiming to institute itself as the voice of the community was not easy. It required resources – financial, no less human, with all the attendant issues of marketing, production, printing and distribution.

There was no competition but erstwhile efforts of some to publish a community newspaper had fallen into troubled waters, enough to dissuade similar attempts.

And yet there was no looking back.

Despite the challenges, even problems that at times appeared insurmountable, the newspaper rolled on, issue after issue, carrying news, reports, events and developments that either affected or appealed to the larger Indian community.

There were indubitably moments of despair but never a throw of hands.

Because we wanted to be counted.

Sustaining interest

As Indian Newslink began to evince reader and advertiser interest, one issue was of serious concern and discussion.

How to sustain reader interest? Was it enough if the newspaper was a giveaway? What about the duty owed to advertisers who had reposed faith in the individual who had invested his meagre savings into the project?

Responsibility-that’s what perhaps distinguished Indian Newslink then and now.

From its inception, one objective was clear: there must be integrity, transparency and honesty in all operations and the publication should stand the test of market scrutiny.

The first year came and went, and so did the second, bringing with it increasing market support, accentuated by advertisers and readers.

Disaster strikes

And then disaster struck.

November 11, 2001 was the day when the offices of the publication were gutted by a merciless fire that raged through the precincts.

Everything perished-computers and computer equipment, software, newspapers, documents-three years of hard work reduced to ashes in less than three hours.

Everything went up in smoke.

Except our determination and the will to carry on relentlessly in our professional pursuit.

Less than 24 hours later, we were back in action, with the workstation shifting from place to place every 24 hours, giving way for loss adjustment officials, builders, painters and others to do their jobs.

Indian Newslink was released on schedule, thanks to the cooperation of the then-production team.

But 11/11 became a nightmare in our thoughts.

That was 22 years ago.

Today, the newspaper wears a new look: smarter, stronger and more responsive to the needs of the community. It has been a journey characterised by a mixture of rough and smooth rides, success and failure and achievements and drawbacks. The one has instilled in us a spirit of fortitude and the other a sense of humility.

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