The Great Indian Newspapers: 50 Living Legends
Dr. Mrinal Chatterjee
Head, Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Dhenkanal, Odisha
The Shillong Times, presently the largest circulated English daily in Meghalaya published from its capital Shillong first appeared as a weekly in tabloid size on 10th August 1945 with Sudhindra Bhusan Chaudhuri as the editor. The prime objective of the paper was to help the freedom movement in this part of the country. Meghalaya as a separate state was not born then. Shillong was then the capital of Assam, a small town nestled in the folds of pristine nature. There was hardly any English newspaper in the region, though there were local language newspapers. In fact, the first Khasi newspaper was established in December 1889, ‘U Nongkit Khubor’ (The Messenger) under the editorship of William William. This quarterly was printed from the Star Press of Calcutta which was also the official organ of Welsh Presbyterian Missionary. The first-ever Khasi secular newspaper ‘U Khasi Mynta’ (The Khasi Today) was published in March 1896, edited by U Hormu Rai Deingdoh. Subsequently, newspapers in other regional languages were printed.
In 1958 The Shillong Times was converted to a Daily. However, owing to financial constraints, it reverted back to a weekly within six months.
In 1961 P.N. (Parsva Nath) Chaudhuri took over the weekly as its Editor-Proprietor. Consequent to the death of P.N.Chaudhuri, his son Manas Chaudhuri took over the reins of the Shillong Times on 1st April 1978. By that time a separate State of Meghalaya was formed (on 21 January 1972 ) with Shillong as its capital along with two other states in the North East Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh.
It was Manas Chaudhuri who sustained and developed the newspaper. Overcoming various hurdles, The Shillong Times emerged as a daily in March 1987. It used to be printed in Letter Press in a treadle machine. It was on 15th August 1991, The Shillong Times switched over to an offset Web Printing system signalling a quantum jump in terms of technology.
The nineties brought about many happy changes in The Shillong Times as a paper and also as a business venture. On 9th November 1992, The Shillong Times launched its Garo Hills Edition for Tura. A popular Garo weekly Janera was launched on 13th January 1993. The weekly was converted to a Daily on 31st July 2000 and was renamed Salantini Janera.
The Shillong Times celebrated its Golden Jubilee through a memorable year-long celebration held in Shillong, Tura, Guwahati and Delhi from 1995 to 96. Diamond Jubilee celebration held in 2004-2005 was inaugurated by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at a glittering function at Guwahati.
In 2005, Manas Chaudhuri was awarded Padmashri in recognition of his service to the people through Journalism.
Chaudhuri has been active in Politics. He is one of the few non-tribals to have won elections multiple times. He won as a legislator to the Shillong Assembly twice from the Mawprem constituency as an independent candidate and won the 2013 Assembly elections from the South Shillong constituency as an Indian National Congress candidate.
In March 2008, consequent on his appointment as a Cabinet Minister in Meghalaya, Chaudhuri made way for Padmashri Ms Patricia Mukim, known for her social activism and her writings on mining in Meghalaya and Khasi people of the state to succeed as the Editor1. A recipient of honours such as the Chameli Devi Jain award, ONE India award, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry FLO award, Upendra Nath Brahma Soldier of Humanity award, Siva Prasad Barooah National award and North East Excellence award Ms Mukim is a respected name in the media world.
In June 2009, a Bengali Daily Sangbad Lahari published from Guwahati was added to the family of The Shillong Times group.