Criers In The Wilderness

Scanning the newsstands in Darjeeling, Dehra Dun or Kathmandu, one would not know it, but there exists a variety of periodicals devoted exclusively to the Himalaya. Some target the grassroots, others the urban elite; some are meant for academics, others for tourists and mountaineers. A few are in English, the rest in the vernacular. Some do original reporting while others favour armchair analysis.
Most periodicals available in the hill towns are published in the plains for a plains audience. Thus, even articles about the hilis are simplified and lose their specificity. The Himalaya is not a market to attract publishing moguls from Delhi or Calcutta, even though there would seem to be enough to write about 35 million mountain people and their cultural, economic and physical environment.
The problems that confront editors of mountain magazines come with the territory. Unreliable mail and difficult terrain make distribution   difficult.   The
non-homogenous Himalayan population, divided as it is by boundaries, watersheds, dialect, attitude, altitude, class and caste, further diminishes the readership pie. The methods of payment — money order, certified check, bank draft or cash — all involve hassles which require of the reader a determination to subscribe almost as great as the editor´s to publish.
Editors´  Woes
For this report, Himal asked editors about the challenge of publishing in the Himalaya. Most of them work with Herculean dedication but without pay or help. They face unreliable printers, elusive writers and a seemingly apathetic audience. "We do this only because we love the mountains and its people. As a job, it is not to be recommended," one editor said.
Kama) Prakash Mall a, a linguist, has edited Contributions to Nepalese Studies since 1983. The tri-yearly journal of Tribhuvan   University  lends   to print
articles on sociology and anthropology, many from foreign scholars. Malla has tried to expand the journal´s reach to cover culture, history and linguistics, but with limited success. He expresses frustration that native scholars are unable to obtain new data and reluctant to provide fresh analyses.
Malla´s journal is unique because it has no funding worries. Such is not the case for Krishna Murti Gupta, editor of Himalaya: Man and Nature. "I do not have the money to pay for a staff," says Gupta, in his spartan office across the street from Raj Ghat in Delhi.
Himalaya: Man and Nature, which is "devoted to the cause of people, forests and environment", is published bi¬monthly by the Himalaya Seva Sangh and carries articles in Hindi and in English. It seeks to alert the grassroots hill audience to the issues of the day, relating to activism, environment and the economy.

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