Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube made their entry in the media market, the PatnaDaily had already registered its presence in cyberspace. It has been a unique platform where readers -- especially of Bihar background -- from all over the world searched for an update and an objective perspective on what was transpiring in Bihar.
This October, I completed seven years of my association with the PatnaDaily as a contributor. For a long time before that, I had always regarded this journal as a mirror reflecting the image of Bihar in all its dimensions. I was impressed to notice consumers of news surfing the PatnaDaily to get information and views on Bihar, just as they would go to a local or provincial newspaper if they had to know about respective districts or provinces.
Thus, as the Amrit Bazar Patrika and the Philadelphia Enquirer were to West Bengal or Philadelphia, for example, so would the PatnaDaily be to Bihar -- its readers and contributors were from Saudi Arabia to Scotland.
Lately, this journal appears to be going through challenges, some of them are beyond the control of its management team. Waves of the Covid pandemic (2020-21) are definitely one among them.
However, as the journal has expressed its frustration in the past, it’s a bit tired of the hackneyed nature of news coming from different parts of Bihar, the sluggish socio-economic and political life of the province. It’s jarring to notice every news and view centered around crime, caste and religion. The journal wanted to take us beyond and above the petty or unending analysis of the politics of caste and religion and open up a new vista of glorious future for Bihar and India.
In my humble opinion, we can’t afford to cease talking about the issues that affect us the most. The socio-political system all around the world -- not only in Bihar or India -- is defined more and more by the identity of the people; selfishness, sectarianism or religious fervor seem to be the major driving force behind world affairs. In the current scenario, therefore, however reprihensible it might appear, there has to be more focused and detailed study of these subjects.
However, in pursuing this method of inquiry and seeking solutions, adequate care must be taken that all sides of the argument are allowed to be presented as long as they are brief, civil and informative.
Therefore, in the reinvigorated format of the PatnaDaily that would include lots of audio-visual too, there must be more -- rather than less -- reports and analysis on caste and religion, their influence on politics and other social behavior including crime.
On the front top right of the news portal, I suggest, there should be two columns of news-in-brief: one on Bihar and the other on India with the web-links. Readers would explore more if they wanted.
As a global citizen, we have to know as much about the prison riots in Ecuador as the killings of in-laws in a Bihar village land dispute. We have to pay attention to why the political parties in India are pressing for caste-based census as seriously as we have to gather what the Taliban were doing in Afghanistan. Some sort of dynamic based on ‘identity’ is hidden in politics everywhere -- from the presidential election in the US to the Gram Panchayat election in Bihar.
The news of achievements and distinctions earned by the citizens of Bihar must also be there. This should be followed by opinions and articles by the writers. Write ups on Bihar art, literature, environment and cuisine should accompany other features.
Most importantly, in order to sustain the newspaper, mobilization of extra resources including fundraising must not be ruled out. I’m not suggesting the PD should go after the government advertisements, but it should also not hesitate in building up a strong financial foundation that would back up its needs. Asking for endowments, crowdfunding and sponsorship (without strings attached) are the most acceptable ways today. We should start canvassing with our friends right away.
Furthermore, except for field reporting, since most of the journalistic work these days can be done remotely, I would encourage PD to solicit voluntary journalists/writers (interested in Bihar) from all over the world. This will be a good place to do a short-term internship for young students of journalism.
In the end, I would strongly urge all the members of the Bihar civil society, past and present teachers, professors, civil servants, professionals, activists or opinion leaders to spare some time, money and effort to make the PatnaDaily a signature publication from Bihar.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.