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EPW plans editions in Indian languages

Shyam Ranganathan

A Hindi edition may see the light of day some time soon, says its Editor

— Photo: S. Thanthoni

Rammanohar Reddy.

CHENNAI: For students and academics working in the social sciences, the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) has been the journal to turn to for original research and analysis of issues. But the characteristic that has sustained it over the last six decades is its ability to provide a space for expressing a diversity of views, feels its Editor C. Rammanohar Reddy.

With its unique combination of meticulously researched articles targeted at scholars and contemporary news analysis written for the non-academics, the EPW provides a space where ideas can be developed in detail and with rigour.

This is the reason why many academics would prefer to wait to be published in the EPW — the average time between submission of an article and its publication is around six months — though it is not a refereed journal and lacks gaudy “impact factor” numbers. “People know that we are the best in India and even South Asia,” Dr. Reddy says.

The EPW Research Foundation is working on projects to organise the enormous wealth of accurate data that the EPW has generated in the course of its existence. But he says the journal, run by the Sameeksha Trust, is not involved in that.

The circulation numbers — around 12,000 print and 1,000 web subscriptions — reflect the prestige attached to an EPW article only to an extent. But the total readership is bound to be close to a lakh as nearly 5,000 subscribers are institutions, he says.

Dr. Reddy told The Hindu here on Friday that informed dissent is the other major role performed by the magazine, which was born in 1949 as the Economic Weekly. It became the EPW in 1966.

With space in the mainstream media for alternative perspectives shrinking, and with the natural constraints on article lengths in newspapers, scholars, students and even politicians turn to the EPW to bring their views to bear on issues, he says.

“There are hundreds of writers who have interesting things to say but they are intimidated thinking it will be rejected. … For me the greatest joy is when you get a submission from someone you don’t know, you pick up the piece, you read it and you unearth a new writer,” he says.

The number of contributors has been increasing over time but there are more submissions from people abroad, both Indians and foreigners, and less from those based in India, he says. Another trend he is worried about is the competition from the web.

The EPW is now working to improve its web edition, which currently mirrors the print edition, to address readers and contributors used to the world of instant publishing, he says.

The journal is also looking at publishing in Indian languages. But with a skeletal staff of seven who do editing, writing, reading and managing the editorial load of nearly 35 articles each week, Dr. Reddy says his options are limited. “Maybe once a month,” he says, and he would like to start by translating select articles.

Discussions have been held and a Hindi edition of EPW may see the light of day some time soon, he adds. Perhaps this is the only journal that receives articles on subjects such as “the making of the notion of the Mulligatawny soup” to a scholar’s study on “the design of an effective BPL census,” he adds.

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