This Diwali, Harshad Jadhav, 28, will be reading about protests and revolutions for freedom, instead of the regular features on the festivities.
Jadhav, a banker, subscribes to ‘Sparshdnyan’, the city’s only fortnightly Braille newspaper, which is coming out with its special Diwali issue on ‘Worldwide protests and revolutions’.
“While the newspaper generally has 45 pages, the Diwali issue is thicker with 140 pages of news and detailed analysis of a contemporary issue,” said Jadhav, who is one among the 25, 000 visually impaired readers of the newspaper in Maharashtra, which was first published in 2008.
“Every year, we choose a particular issue to highlight in our 140-page newspaper, based on newsworthiness and historical significance. We also cater to readers’ requests,” said Swagat Thorat, editor and publisher, Sparshdnyan.
“Last year, we had started working on the theme of the golden jubilee celebrations of Maharashtra. However, closer to Diwali, the high court issued the verdict on the Ayodhya conflict, and based on a reader’s request, we changed the entire plan.”
The 2008 Diwali issue focused on columns and columnists. Renowned Marathi newspaper columnists contributed their best works. “In 2009, we read about global warming and climatic conditions, in time with the Copenhagen Climate summit that took place in December that year,” said Ashok Athavale, 33, a resident of Beed district in Maharashtra, who has collected the newspaper for the past four years.
While Thorat gets the newsprint from the National Association for the Blind (NAB) at a price of Rs 1.80 per page, he bears the printing and publishing cost.
“We charge readers only the cost of paper. For those who can’t afford it we get donors to pay for their yearly subscription and in turn publish their names on every issue.”