A year ago, without any fanfare, a new magazine found its way to newsstands across the country. It looked different, was smaller in size than most of the others, so there was a real fear that it may get lost in the stands, that it may never reach the overcrowded shelves. It did not get lost, and people did notice it. The avid magazine buyers who are on the lookout for new ones, the stray reader who found it one evening while casually browsing at a news stall, some vendors who liked the look of it and recommended it to their customers—the magazine found a readership, and subscriptions started trickling in.
Fountain Ink is a year old this month, and going strong. There is no paucity of readers for long-form journalism, and not just in big cities, our experience shows. The past year has been a geography lesson of sorts, as subscribers from towns I hadn’t heard of wrote me letters, of appreciation largely. It has strengthened our resolve to explore India through long-form reportage and photo stories.
The theme of “One” loosely threads its way across this anniversary edition. We start with the story of One Journey, the harrowing voyage that Sri Lankan Tamil refugees take in small fishing boats destined for Australia in the hope of a better life. More things can go wrong than right in this, and our narrative examines the dynamics through the prism of one foiled attempt.
Sometimes One good idea, even an obvious one, has the power to change lives profoundly. In Asarenagar, a slum in the outskirts of Bangalore, the idea was solar energy-powered lamps. Two bulbs in houses that have no grid electricity have changed things immensely, most importantly with the education of children.
Our photo story this month is One day in the life of a traffic police officer, a thankless and back breaking job that is seldom appreciated enough.
Do read our essay on batsmen who managed to score only One Test match hundred, and the list has more illustrious names than you can think of. The other one is on the operation of the Disturbed Areas Act in Gujarat, where it was meant to prevent distress sale of properties during communal riots, and is now an example of One good idea gone wrong.
We have excerpted writer Dilip D’Souza’s book The curious case of Binayak Sen. Among other things, the book examines how Sen was prosecuted and convicted for life on the basis of the most dubious kind of evidence.
In the months to come, there will be some changes in Fountain Ink. We will introduce new sections, and tweaks in the design among others to give you a more complete magazine.
Saurav Kumar, Editor