Mumbai Samachar, India’s oldest newspaper, turns 200

Published : July 02, 2021 19:40 IST

Mumbai Samachar’s office building in Horniman Circle, Mumbai. Photo: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP

On July 1, Mumbai Samachar, India’s oldest newspaper which was once known as the Bombay Samachar, entered its 200th year. The Gujarati daily, located in an iconic red-and-white striking colonial building in Mumbai’s prominent Horniman Circle area, has weathered many storms, including the recent staggering reduction in readership due to the popularity of the digital medium.

Hormusji Cama, the newspaper’s owner, told mediapersons at the start of the bicentenary that as long as good journalism existed, there would be loyal readership and the paper would carry on. Cama has been at the helm for the past 40 years and believes that the paper will certainly survive the severe challenges being faced by the print media.

According to archival material available on the paper, the Mumbai Samachar is the oldest vernacular daily in the country. It was founded in 1822 by Fardoonji Murazban, a Parsi scholar. The content was primarily about government and court announcements, trade, ships coming in and out of India and real estate. In the early 1930s, the newspaper was on the brink of bankruptcy and to save it from liquidity, the court asked Cama Norton and Company, the agents that supplied the ink to the printing press, to take over the paper in order to avoid employees losing their jobs.

In Gujarati, the paper is referred to as Mumbai na Samachar and it is popular in Mumbai for its local coverage and advertisements. Significantly, the paper played its part in India’s freedom struggle, covering events led by Mahatma Gandhi and the first Prime Minister of the country, Jawaharlal Nehru. Its editorial team and opinion pieces were known for their sobriety and independent writing. In fact, it is still respected for these traits.

The red building houses its printing press and is a popular tourist attraction. Very often, one of the owner’s restored and grand vintage car may be spotted outside, which is a delight for visitors and tourists. For Mumbai, the Samachar is a part of its history and a reminder that quality journalism still prevails.

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